Grainne O’Neill’s mum Anne (pictured right, and above with Grainne) tragically passed away at the end of January of this year – just seven months after she was diagnosed.
Now the 21-year-old Armagh woman intends to create a fund in memory of her mummy called ‘Fight on for Annie’, which is being launched on Sunday, October 12.
It will support Pancreatic Cancer UK and Pancreatic Cancer Action.
Grainne also has enlisted the help of family and friends to once again accompany her on the Armagh four mile fun run.
“I have over 100 people taking part in the fun run which is held on the same day of the launch,” Grainne told Armagh I. “They will be dressed in purple T-shirts and each will receive a goodie bag.
“I am also working on trying to get the Armagh Gaol lit up in November for Pancreatic Cancer awareness.
“From Sunday, October 12, our website fightonforannie.com will be launched and wristbands will be available for purchasing.”
Grainne, a leisure and events final year honours degree student at the University of Ulster, has devoted herself to fundraising and trying to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer since Anne, a 54-year-old mum-of-three, lost her own battle.
And she is shortly to trek the Great Wall of China – over the Hallowe’en period in fact – as yet another part of her dedicated fundraising, all of which she does to keep Anne’s memory alive and bring hope to others.
On top of the £6,500 she had already raised for Pancreatic Cancer UK, Grainne has since amassed a further £3,500 in recent months to take part in the Great Wall of China trek.
“I feel so strongly about the charity and the cancer because the statistics are shocking and I never want families to have to go through what we went through,” says Grainne.
“My mum wasn’t fully diagnosed until the end of August last year, but was told in the middle of July that it probably was pancreatic cancer, they just needed to carry out some more tests to be 100%. Because the pancreas is behind so many organs, it is harder to diagnose and, because there isn’t much research or things known about the cancer, it is even harder to diagnose.
“She had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which means its primary origin is the pancreas, but had spread to her liver and lung. Since pancreatic cancer is so hard to detect it is usually at a far on stage and spread to more than the pancreas.
“A prime example of this is my mum, as she had felt fine until the last weekend of May and she ended up having stage 4. My mum got only seven months from diagnosis. She left behind her husband, daughter (26), son (24) and me (21).”
Grainne really began her fundraising and campaigning last October and, since then, has become an Events Volunteer and a voice for Pancreatic Cancer UK. Last year she took part in the four mile run out at Navan Fort, with her brother Fergal, sister Sinéad O’Neill, her sister’s boyfriend and her cousin.
“I had turned 21 on October 10, so asked for sponsorship instead of presents,” she explained, the first of many fundraisers and events to date.
Statistics reveal that the five year UK survival rate is less than 4% and, alarmingly, rates have not changed in over 40 years!
And more alarmingly is the fact that pancreatic cancer only receives 1% of cancer research spend per year, even though it’s the 5th biggest cause of cancer deaths.
Grainne is determined to continue to fundraise and raise awareness and the launch of the website on October 12 is just the latest effort from this remarkable young Armagh woman.
She said: “I feel so passionately about this disease and want to do all that I can. Everyone has been brilliant and I can think of no better way of helping to keep mummy’s memory alive.”
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