Kerrie waits for double mastectomy

Kerrie Douglas supports the Cancer Focus NI In Pink campaign to raise cash for ground-breaking research into breast cancer at QUB.
Kerrie Douglas supports the Cancer Focus NI In Pink campaign to raise cash for ground-breaking research into breast cancer at QUB.

Leading local charity Cancer Focus Northern Ireland is urging everyone to hold a pink inspired event during October – breast cancer awareness month - to raise vital funds for pioneering research at Queen’s University Belfast.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Northern Ireland - every year 1,200 are diagnosed and 300 lose their lives.

Pictured are Kerrie's children Khalyn, Cade and Mackenzie Douglas

Pictured are Kerrie's children Khalyn, Cade and Mackenzie Douglas

Kerrie Douglas (34) from Ballymoney is waiting to have preventative surgery after she found out she has the BRCA 2 gene which greatly increases her chance of getting the disease. Kerrie has three children, Mackenzie (14), Khalyn (8) and Cade (7).

Speaking to the Times, she explained: “My nana on my father’s side took ill before Christmas two years ago and was being treated in hospital for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). They discovered that she had a mass on her breast which was diagnosed as breast cancer. When we looked back there had been quite a number of women in the family who’ve died from ovarian and breast cancer over the years. One of my grandmother’s nieces was diagnosed with BRCA 2 and Nana said it might be wise for all of us to be tested. I’d known nothing about BRCA 2 but once we started talking about being tested I did a bit of research on the internet. I had the test done and six weeks later the result came back positive. It was a huge shock and I’m still trying to come to terms with it.

“I was diagnosed a year ago and was told I would have a preventative double mastectomy by the end of this year. Since then I’ve been told I’ve been pushed back to early next year because so many people are being treated for cancer.

“It is an anxious time and I’m terrified. But even before I got the test result I knew I would have the surgery for the sake of the children. I didn’t feel there was any other choice. I just feel lucky that I’ve had my family already. Now I’m just on the waiting list.

“I hadn’t realised how many other people have the mutant gene too. Before I felt it was the only me but I’ve made a whole new network of friends online.

“Research into this condition is so important. Obviously my own children will have to be tested now. I’m hoping that by the time they are grown-up a lot more will be known about the condition, that it will be easier to detect and there will be better treatments.

“Preventative surgery can be devastating, particularly if you’re young and have no children. Hopefully in years to come people won’t have to go through what I’m going through. The more research there is the better – it’s vitally important - and I’d encourage everyone to help with fundraising or make a donation to Cancer Focus NI. Fantastic work into BRCA is being done at QUB, so you’d be supporting local researchers too. My nana sadly passed away recently, no one wants to see someone they love get breast cancer, so she is another reason I feel so passionately that I want to help.”

Full story and more details: www.ballymoneytimes.co.uk

Suzi McIlwain, community fundraising manager for Cancer Focus NI, said: “Just £200 will fund half a day’s work by our researchers who could make a huge difference to the future of women who carry the mutated BRCA1 gene, women who have an 85% chance of getting breast cancer in their lifetime.

“Even the smallest donation will help our researchers explore better ways to prevent breast cancer and find alternative treatments for high risk women who, at present, have to consider having breast removal to drastically cut their chance of cancer.

“We urgently need you to help by organising or supporting a local In Pink fundraising event – we can’t do it without you! And whatever you decide to do, we’d love you to spread the word and share and tag us online so we can see what you’re up to.”

Cancer Focus NI has come up with a whole host of fundraising ideas. You could wear something pink for a day, week or the whole month and get sponsored. Or you could get together with your friends, family, school, community, group or club to have a catch up over a coffee and some cake with pink icing.

You might organise a BBQ or a girly night in with a movie, snacks and something strawberry flavoured to sip on, or go all out and book a local hall or hotel for an In Pink party.

Among the events the charity is organising is a fun Pink Colour Run at Victoria Park, Belfast, on Sunday, October 30. Check the Cancer Focus NI website for more details.

If you’d like to organise an IN Pink event, get your fundraising pack at  www.cancerfocusni.org, call our fundraising team on 028 9066 3281 or email fundraising@cancerfocusni.org.

If you’re worried about cancer call the Cancer Focus NI free Nurseline on 0800 783 3339.

The In Pink campaign is being run in partnership with MediCare Pharmacy Group.