AN Artigarvan man who beat cancer has given his support to Cancer Focus Northern Ireland's emergency appeal for funds to save its vital services for cancer patients now and in the future.
The charity is worried that it will not survive the coronavirus crisis and is appealing to everyone to make a donation to help keep its doors open.
Noel Donnell who attended a Cancer Focus NI wellbeing weekend at Corrymeela during his recovery said the charity's support was invaluable.
He said: “When I was diagnosed with lymphoma I was traumatized by it all. I didn’t understand about it and my wife didn’t understand..
"Physically you can get treatment but it really affects you mentally too.
“The mental affect was the worst part for me.
“The Cancer Focus NI staff can’t be thanked enough for all the work they do. When I arrived at Corrymeela I was tensed up more than anything and they showed us how to relax.
"They taught me that there is always tomorrow, how to live with and cope with my illness and that I could still live life as normal."
Noel, who lives in Artigarvan, added: "I feel I’ve turned a corner. I’m a new person.”
Each year, Cancer Focus NI supports 6,000 cancer patients, their families and carers across Northern Ireland.
The local charity is 90 per cent dependent on fundraising but has had to cancel all its fundraising events and close its charity shops.
As a result, it’s facing an 80 per cent loss of income over the next six months.
To help safeguard its survival, the charity has launched its emergency appeal.
"Our hearts go out to people who are trying to cope with the anxiety of coronavirus on top of dealing with a cancer diagnosis and the impact of treatment," Roisin Foster, chief executive, Cancer Focus NI explained.
“COVID-19 is making life so much more difficult for them - treatments have been delayed and clinics cancelled. Not to mention the anxiety, stress and loneliness that patients and their families might feel right now.
“With cancer screening suspended and GP referrals for suspected cancer down 76 per cent, we know there will be a wave of patients facing late diagnosis and more complex treatment.
“We desperately want to be able to support people facing cancer both now and in the future but, unfortunately, we are facing a crisis unlike any other we have ever known in our 50 year history.”
Roisin added: “Our income has plummeted to a critically low level and we are worried that we will not be able to keep afloat.
“We fear we might not be here to continue to support thousands of people at one of the toughest times of their lives.
"For each day of lockdown, another 36 local people get cancer, and cancer figures are rising year on year.
“We are still providing greatly reduced counselling and family support services to as many vulnerable people as possible. But we urgently need your help and we’re appealing to everyone to make a donation, big or small, to save our services.
“Your donations are vital to us and every penny raised stays in Northern Ireland. Your support at this incredibly difficult time is extremely valuable and greatly appreciated. We can’t do it without you.”
Support the Cancer Focus NI emergency appeal by making a donation today on cancerfocusni.org/appeal, text FOCUS to 70660 to donate £5 or text FOCUS £10 to 70660 to donate £10.