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Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Lisburn Dad And Daughter Supporting Hospice's Special

Mikaela Porter with her father John.
Mikaela Porter with her father John.

The light of a mum's love that will shine forever

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.

The 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 City where a scan showed she had cancer on her brain. In February she underwent an operation followed by a course of radiotherapy.

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 every day.

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 got."

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 Somerton Road.

Joanna Pawson, co-ordinator of the 'Lights to Remember' is hopeful the charity will meet its target of 204,000.

"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

Ulster Star