Today The Coleraine Times is backing a campaign by a local mum in a bid to make her home comfortable for her nine-year-old son, who is undergoing chemotherapy for a rare form of cancer.
Portrush mum of four Donna McCrellis is aiming to raise £2,000 to help reduce the risk of infection in her Brook Park home.
Donna’s little son Hunter was diagnosed with Burkitts, or BCell non Hodgkin Lymphoma earlier this year, after visiting his GP with a sore throat.
Since then, the Bushmills Primary School pupil has been in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit twice.
The nine-year-old was described by doctors at one point as being in ‘an extremely vulnerable state’, but the football mad youngster has put up a brave fight and is about to undergo his fifth session of chemotherapy.
Despite all that Hunter has been through, mum Donna says he is ‘in good form’. Now, she is aiming to make life more comfortable for him at home.
“I have four children,” said Donna.
“Before this happened Hunter would have shared a room with his older brother, but he has asthma, so I cannot let the two of them share because of the high risk of infection.
“At the minute Hunter’s room is the kitchen of our home in Portrush - it is not ideal - we have no storage and he needs a new bed, I just want him to be as comfortable as he can be in his own home.
“I came up with the fund raising page - just to see if we could get the house sorted out for Hunter.”
Explaining more about Hunter’s condition, Donna added: “Hunter has a very aggressive form of cancer.
“At the start when he was first diagnosed he was very ill in intensive care.
“We were told that he had to start the chemo whilst he was in intensive care simply because the tumours could double in size within 18 hours.
“So far things have been going okay. Hunter has had four sessions of chemo, two of these were intensive, and he was very ill with them, but even the doctors have said how surprised they are at the way he has coped.”
Donna said that it has been heartbreaking for as a mother to watch her son go through all that he has been through. “Hunter has a phobia of needles, and at the start it took four of five nurses to hold him down, that was really hard for me to watch.
“Now, he is getting more used to things.”
Last Wednesday night, thanks to local NI Cancer Fund for Children representative, Heather Pollock and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, little Hunter enjoyed a night out with his mum and his two sisters, as a VIP guest at the stunt bikes in Portrush.
“It was lovely to see a wee smile on his face,” told Donna.
“When we told him about the stunt bikes he just jumped at the chance to go.
“It was lovely for us all to spend time together as a family - so often at home the focus is all on Hunter,” she said.
Donna went on to thank Heather for organising the trip: “It was lovely for me to speak with Heather. There are loads of other parents in Belfast at the hospital with children having treatment for cancer, but all of the support seems to be in the Belfast area.
“I think we are forgotten about down here, it was good to have Heather with us on Wednesday night for support, we all really enjoyed it.”
If you would like to donate to Donna’s page log on to crowdfunding.justgiving.com/donna-mccrellis - alternatively you can contact the family via the facebook page ‘Hunter is a little hero’.
It is hoped that the £2,000 target will be reached in the coming weeks. To date the donations are totalling £300.