CRAIGAVON woman Lorna Jennings hosted a fancy dress fun walk in aid of the Glenanne and Mandeville cancer units at Craigavon Area Hospital to whom she says she owes so much.
In December 2010, after finding a very small lump in her breast, Lorna (46), who lives at Lakelands, took the decision to visit her GP and was referred to Craigavon Area Hospital for a mammogram.
“I was not overly concerned while I waited for the results, as you never think it’s going to happen to you,” Lorna recalled.
However, what did happen next is every woman’s nightmare. After having a biopsy, Lorna was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Like many other women I found myself in a terrifying situation,” she said.
The lump was described as ‘fierce’ and Lorna was told she would in fact be fighting for her life. “This was the beginning of a dark and challenging time for me as I had to adjust to the fact that I may not make it at all,” she explained.
Lorna found that her Christian faith was the source of strength to get her through the uncertain days ahead, and the support and positive outlook of her loving husband Graham kept her optimistic.
Lorna was advised that she would require six cycles of chemotherapy, followed by a mastectomy and further chemotherapy or radiotherapy. After two cycles of chemotherapy Lorna made an instinctive decision not to undergo any more and was given the option of a mastectomy.
“After having wrestled with the idea of losing a breast, I realised that this might save my life, and thank God it did,” said Lorna. “With much prayer the operation went ahead and was extremely successful.”
Lorna, who was given the all-clear in April 2011, received her treatment at the Mandeville and Glenanne cancer units at Craigavon Area Hospital, the purpose-built diagnostic and treatment centre which opened in December 2001 in partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and the Department of Health.
With an attendance of around 1,450 patients each month, the units are designed to make the treatment process as comfortable as possible for both patients as their families.
Due to the outstanding care and support that she received from the cancer units during her treatment, Lorna had a desire to give something back and raise awareness of the outstanding facilities available.
“I am very thankful to all the supportive staff at the Glenanne and Mandeville units at Craigavon Area Hospital. They really do go above and beyond the call of duty with the care and service that they provide, a care so personal it was as though they had known you for a long time,” said Lorna
“They were available in person or on the phone as much as you wished them to be and they really did become good friends”.
Lorna wishes to express a heartfelt thanks to everyone at the units who joined her on her journey and especially to the staff who were a much-needed source of stability throughout the turmoil of fighting the disease.
“The journey, however, is never really over,” said Lorna, “As a community it is important to be aware of how fortunate we are to have such great facilities, particularly as cancer is on the increase. It is for this reason that I would like to do something in return.
“Having cancer changed my life, and it wasn’t until I faced death that I realised how much I wanted to live. I am so grateful for having a second chance, understanding that it does not always end up this way. I now see things in a different light and appreciate everything so much more.”
The Fancy Dress Fun Walk was Lorna’s way of reciprocating the care and attention that she received from the Glenanne and Mandeville units. As an avid walker around Craigavon Lakes herselfit was a perfect way to raise funds for the units, “The fancy dress was there to brighten things up and create a more positive attitude towards cancer and cancer patients alike and the lakes are just so beautiful,” she added.
The Craigavon Lakes Fancy Dress Fun Walk took place on Saturday, July 30. For more information or if you would like to make a donation contact Lorna Jennings on 07540 700 923 or 028 3834 3370.