Northern Ireland news

Co Down GAA player chose charities 'close to her heart' to receive £200,000 raised for her cancer battle

Members of Ms McCann's family, pictured at the event on Saturday, with the Siobhan McCann sevens jersey

A CO Down Gaelic footballer chose seven charities "close to her heart" to benefit from more than £200,000 raised for her cancer battle prior to her death.

A total of £234,000 was donated to Siobhan McCann in a bid to help fund potentially life-prolonging treatment for her, which was not available on the NHS.

But tragically Ms McCann (26) lost her battle and passed away in May.

However, her family and friends have revealed that "at Siobhan's request" the money will now go towards seven charities and organisations she chose prior to her death, most of which helped her through her battle with cancer.

Ms McCann was a keen Gaelic footballer, playing with St John’s since the age of five and representing her county from U16 to senior level.

Living in London, she played for Dulwich Harps GAC and worked as a physiotherapist for Fulham Irish GAA.

But after she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in April 2018, she returned home for chemotherapy and was due to have a tumour removed when she was told the condition had spread to her liver, meaning surgery was no longer an option.

Her friends began a fundraising campaign to help her access the costly cancer medication, Bevacizumab (Avastin), but she died just seven months later.

On Saturday, a Gaelic football tournament was held in her memory, with 24 teams from across Ireland and Britain taking part in the ladies’ sevens event at her home club.

Her family said it was a way of "keeping Siobhan's memory alive" and during the event they revealed the charities and organisations that will benefit from the funds remaining after her death.

They include the Cancer Fund for Children, which receives £50,000 to be used towards therapeutic breaks for families and helping young people live with cancer, as well as the NI Hospice, which has been given £14,700 for specialist community hospice care.

The Friends of Cancer Centre receives £37,500 for complementary therapies and 1,000 hours of clinical nurse specialists, while the Donard Family Practice benefits from £8,000 and Castlewellan and Newcastle district nurses also receive £12,000.

Other beneficiaries include the Little Princesses Trust, which a donation of £11,000 to be used towards making real hair wigs for children and young people who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment.

The biggest donation is to the MacDermott Unit at the Ulster Hospital and Macmillan, which receives £101,232 towards items including chemotherapy chairs.

Her family said the "generosity throughout the whole of the fundraising campaign for Siobhan’s cancer treatment was a credit to everyone involved".

"This was a phenomenal show of support for Siobhan and we thank everyone again from the bottom of our hearts," they said.

Ms McCann's friend Cormac Mullan said the event was "not to mourn the loss of Siobhan, but to celebrate her life".

"Throughout Siobhan's year-long battle with cancer she received so much love and support, both financially and emotional," he said.

"The list is endless of the various events that took place in the seven months of fundraising and we cannot thank you all for this. It just shows how much Siobhan was loved.

"These fundraisers gave Siobhan the financial and mental support to keep going.

"Without the Avastin drug, which was funded through the various fundraisers and donations and the love and emotional support Siobhan received she would have lost her battle with cancer a lot earlier.

"So from myself and all Siobhan's family and friends we thank you all so much for giving us that extra few months with her.

"The week before Siobhan passed away I sat with her and we discussed where she wanted the remaining money to go. Siobhan selected a number of charities close to her heart, most of which helped her through her battle with cancer.

"Unfortunately, we have learnt that money cannot buy you everything, with over £200,000 left in her fundraising account."

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