Donella Meade from Lisbellaw, Co Fermanagh, nominated Cancer Fund for Children, to win £10,000 in our 10th birthday competition. This was part of a recent give-away of 10 grants of £10,000 to celebrate all the great things that people have done with Big Lottery Fund support in the past decade.
Cancer Fund for Children provides support for children and young people with a cancer diagnosis, and their families across Northern Ireland. The group provided a lifeline to Donella Meade’s family when her daughter Naomi was diagnosed with cancer just two weeks before her 11th birthday.
“Not knowing what the future held for her was the most frightening experience of my life. The worst part was that as a mother, I couldn’t take it away from her,” said Donella, who along with her husband Peter, tried to be strong for the sake of Naomi, and the couple’s other three daughters.
“Naomi had become withdrawn and angry at the world, asking the question over and over that I simply could not answer – ‘why me?’” Donella said.
The couple’s daughters struggled to grasp the reality of Naomi’s condition and were often left confused and upset.
The family turned to Cancer Fund for Children for support – and it proved to be a lifeline.
“Somewhere in the midst of hospital admissions, chemotherapy, surgery and countless tears, this most amazing organisation came into our lives. With their help, we got our shattered, exhausted, emotional and fearful family back on track,” Donella said.
“Naomi got her life back. From the minute she met her Cancer Fund for Children specialist, I got a glimpse of my daughter again, before her diagnosis. Naomi began to come out of the cocoon she had locked herself in. She went on residentials to Narnia Log Cabin in the Shimna Valley Complex in Newcastle – the most magical place on earth.
“There, Naomi felt safe, normal and happy. She wasn’t seen as a ‘cancer kid’.
“She didn’t have to pretend to feel well when she wasn’t; she didn’t have to hide away the operation scars on her tiny chest; she didn’t have to wear a wig she hated.”
Naomi’s three sisters became involved in Cancer Fund for Children’s Sibling Support Programme and made lifelong friends of their own, as well as getting an insight into what Naomi was going through.
Now Donella says the family has turned a corner.
“I am so proud to say that my daughter is now 16 and recovered from cancer.
“And once again, she is making plans for the future, something she had avoided doing for a long time.”
Donella nominated Cancer Fund for Children and is thrilled that they have won £10,000 to help other young people with a cancer diagnosis.
They will use the money to run outdoor activities residential programme for young people aged eight to 24 who have cancer at the charity’s centre in Newcastle.
Gillian Creevy Chief Executive of Cancer Fund for Children said:
“We are absolutely thrilled to have won £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund. This money will allow us to provide children and teenagers who have spent many months in isolation enduring gruelling treatment regimes with the opportunity to get active outdoors. But most importantly they will meet other young people who understand what they are going through.”