A young mother of five, who suffered from breast cancer at the age of 36, is very thankful for the backing given to her recent fundraising efforts on behalf of her chosen beneficiary.

Claire Neville was behind The Big Pink for Breast Cancer Care, a successful event held in the Westville Hotel, Enniskillen, on November 16.

She explained that she had chosen to raise funds “for the amazing work” that helped her through a very difficult time in her life last year, and she is very appreciative of everyone that came to support her special night.

She especially thanked her sister Jolene for her help, and also the Westville Hotel management and staff, and all those who provided donations and support.

Explaining why she chose this charity, Claire says she found out she had the BRCA1 gene in April 2015.

“I had made my decision to have preventive surgery by having a full hysterectomy and a double mastectomy,” said Claire.

She added: “While I was seeing consultants to seek out what my options were I had been called for a mammogram in May for a routine check up. A few short weeks later I got my results and it was normal. Because the risk of cancer in my family was so high we were told that we would also be offered MRI screening. I attended that appointment at the end of June. Some few days later I got a letter to return back to have biopsies carried out as something showed up on my left breast. I had the screening done and had yet another few days to wait on the results.”

Claire disclosed: “It was a very anxious time for me, probably the worst time in my life waiting on the results. At the age of 35 with a family of five children I could only start to imagine the worst.”

She went on to say: “Some days passed when I got that dreaded phone call to ask me to come up to Antrim Area Hospital where everything would be explained to me. As we attended that appointment, my husband and I, we were told that I had a tumour in my left breast and it was stage 3, which meant fast growing and life threatening if it wasn’t treated on time.”

She recalls she was admitted into Antrim Area Hospital: “I had decided there and then not just to have a lumpectomy but wanted them to do a double mastectomy.”

She went on to say: “I had my long surgery and I’m pleased to say the decision I made, which was not an easy one for me, it was definitely the right decision.”

Claire admits it was a very emotional time for her over those few months. “I know the Lord was with me every single step of the journey,” said Claire, who mentioned that she could feel God’s presence near her, comforting her.

She highlights: “There’s not a day since that goes by that I don’t thank God for everything down to the very first diagnosis, the help with having to tell my five children, the surgery and still God remains with me every day. That’s the one and only hope I have of continuing my life as normal as possible is knowing God will never leave me.”

Among those she is very thankful to are all of the team at the Antrim Area Hospital, and to them she extends her deep gratitude.

Claire, who is now attending the City Hospital in Belfast for a liver condition, said she wants to “thank everyone for their prayers” and adds she “can definitely say that prayers have been answered.”

In relation to their recent Big Pink fundraising efforts, she acknowledged they have raised £1,225.59, plus there were online donations of £145.

Claire expresses her gratitude to all the people in the community that helped out by donating gifts and money. 

In conclusion, she offers her advice “to anyone who has family history of cancer to make sure and get the gene test done as it could potentially save their life.”