Brave Evelyn’s Christmas Day wish

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An inspirational Portstewart woman diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and with just months to live is calling on the public to support a Christmas Day swim in aid of the Hospice.

In April Evelyn McCullough (61) was given the devastating news that she had Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, an appendix cancer which affects one in a million.

Evelyn told the Times: “My only hope was a radical operation to remove most of my abdominal organs, in Basingstoke, one of only two centres in the UK that specialises in PMP.

“By the time I was taken there from the Causeway Hospital by air ambulance in June my condition had worsened rapidly and after the operation I was told that I’d had in fact only days to live.

“The ten hour operation was successful in that it has extended my life by five wonderful months now, and the chemotherapy I am receiving for the 5% of cancer that could not be removed is hopefully slowing down the progress of the remaining disease.”

Now Evelyn is calling on the public to support Operation Freeze Knees the annual Christmas Day dip at Portstewart Strand which raises money for the NI Hospice.

Evelyn says: “This year, for the first time in many years, I will not be able to do the Christmas swim, but my nephew, 25-year-old Adam Buick, is going to step into my shoes and do it for me.

“He will have some supporters with him, all of whom are getting sponsorship, so we are going to call them Team Evelyn.

“ I am delighted that he will be helping to raise money for the NI Hospice, a most worthy cause and one which any of us could need in the future.”

Monies collected through the festive fundraiser event will be used locally to support the Hospice home care nursing service for adults and children with life- threatening illnesses The cost of providing this service is £300,000 so every penny is vital.

“I am under no illusions that sooner or later I will need them - unless of course a miracle happens,” Evelyn reflects.

“In the meantime I am keeping positive and doing what I can to give something back. It is so nice that Adam has rallied round.

“He accompanied me once when he was just ten and then once again when he was about 20 and believe me he really felt the cold, so it is a big thing he is doing for me.

“I will be there - though most likely in a wheelchair as I get tired standing - to cheer him and Team Evelyn on, and I’ll make sure I dress up too and have mulled wine for the brave swimmers.”

Earlier this year Evelyn raised £8,250 for Macmillan Cancer Support through the sale of her photographs of the north coast and she subsequently handed over the magnificent amount when she was the special guest at the opening of the new Macmillan Cancer Pod in Causeway Hospital.

Anyone wishing to take part in Operation Freeze Knees can ring 70832735 for a sponsorship form.