LOCAL man John Porter and his two-year-old
daughter Mikaela are supporting this year's Lights to Remember
appeal is in support of the Northern Ireland Hospice Care as a
very special tribute the woman who won't be there to share
Christmas this year.
John, from Beechfield Park, lost his beloved
wife Andrea last July when she was just 35 years old after she
spent many months battling cancer.
annual 'Lights to
Remember' appeal gives members of the public and families who
have benefited from Northern Ireland Hospice Care services the
opportunity to sponsor a light in memory of a loved one on a
very special Christmas tree.
Andrea was 16 weeks pregnant with her first
child when she was diagnosed with cancer. The couple had been on
holiday in Spain when she felt a small lump on her neck.
At first she was not unduly concerned but she
went to her GP. Tests found it was malignant and was on her
lung. Because Andrea was pregnant they could do little to treat
it and had to wait until she gave birth before beginning any
radio or chemotherapy.
At 32 weeks she gave birth to a healthy
beautiful bouncing baby daughter, Mikaela, in February 2005.
Eight weeks later Andrea started aggressive
chemotherapy which left her weak and sick. Unfortunately, in
June, the lump returned and she had 13 doses of radiotherapy at
the City Hospital.
She was given the all clear in September but
in January Andrea started to have pains in her head and was
brought back to the Citywhere a scan showed she had cancer on her brain.
In February she underwent an operation followed by a course of
Initially it appeared to be a success and a
rash that appeared on her back and chest seemed to be shingles.
In fact it was a rare type of skin cancer normally found only in
infants. Even after four courses of chemotherapy spots were
found on her liver and she was having to take up to 25 tablets
After months of battling the cancer returned
to her brain and Andrea passed away in July 23, 2006.
"Andrea was always strong willed and was
always determined that no matter what was thrown at her, she
would fight it and get better," said her husband. "She had a lot
of faith and she thought she would beat it. She was always very
confident and never accepted defeat no matter how bad things
This year John, a Planning Manager with an
architectural company, is supporting Shine a Light as a thank
you for the care Andrea received from the charity when she was
ill. He has already raised over £400 and hopes to make that
£1,000 by Christmas. John explained: "Andrea didn't get the
chance to spend the time with Mikaela she should have. It was a
very sad time. The Hospice was there for me through all the
hardest times. They made me feel I wasn't alone, someone else
understood what I was going through. I am still in contact with
them and all I have to do is lift the phone."
The Lights to Remember appeal culminates in
the Ceremony of Lights on Tuesday December 18 which includes a
torchlight procession and the official switching on of the
Christmas tree lights in the grounds of the adult hospice at
Joanna Pawson, co-ordinator of the 'Lights to
Remember' is hopeful the charity will meet its target of
"What makes our appeal unique is that it is
an opportunity to remember loved ones,. especially at Christmas
time. Each light on our Christmas tree will be special because
it will shine with the memory of a loved one; a husband or
mother, relative or friend and provides a way of celebrating
their life. The appeal also enables Northern Ireland Hospice
Care to continue to care for children and adults currently
living with life-limiting and life threatening conditions, not
only this Christmas but throughout the coming year."
The charity is heavily dependent on the
generosity of the public to maintain their services and care.
Each year the local charity relies heavily on donations from the
public to support the service. It costs £5 million to run the
adult service and £2 million to run the children's service.
• Anyone wishing to sponsor a light and help
thousands of families across Northern Ireland can make a
donation to Northern Ireland Hospice Care, Head Office, 18,
O'Neill Road, Newtownabbey BT36 6WB, phone 90 777 123 or on-line