LOCAL woman who fought a rare form of cancer five years ago is
urging people to give up some of their free time to work for NI
Cancer Fund for Children.
Claire Mellan was just 23 when she was struck
down without warning by an aggressive form of desmoplastic small
round cell cancer that affected her abdomen and ovaries.
The illness came to light when Claire
collapsed at home one day around Christmas in 2003 without
warning. At first it was thought she had appendicitis but after
further investigation a lump was found on her ovary crushing her
So rare was her condition, which is mostly
found in male adolescents, that the family contacted a surgeon
in America to get more information on the rare form of cancer.
Once she was diagnosed she was put on a six month long course of
chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant in Belfast City
The treatment was a success and Claire has
remained in remission ever since but still has a yearly check
As a way of putting something back Claire
began working as a volunteer three years ago for the NI Cancer
Fund for Children.
Now 29 she works as an assistant buyer for
RFD Beaufort in Dunmurry but still finds time to volunteer for
the charity in her spare time. She spends most weekends in
Newcastle where groups go for residential weekends.
"A friend told me about the charity and I had
an interest in child psychology anyway so I was eager to help
out in whatever way I could," Claire said.
NI Cancer Fund for Children hold weekends
away to the Mournes for children and their siblings between the
ages of 8 to 21.
"I love doing it and it is something close to
my heart," said Claire. "It is so rewarding and you can do as
little as you want or as much as you want but they do need
volunteers. There is always something to do whether it be
residential outings, coffee mornings or whatever. "I would
encourage anyone who wants to volunteer their time to go ahead
and do it - it is so rewarding.
It is an amazing charity which gives young
people the chance to escape from their own experiences with
cancer and find comfort in sharing experiences with each other.
I really look forward to the weekend residentials and working
with young people. I always manage to find time to volunteer at
weekends throughout the year.
"Last year, I got the chance to bring a group
of young people sailing with the Ellen Macarthur Trust; we spent
four amazing days navigating our way around the Isle of Wight.
This is just one of the many experiences I have shared with the
charity and I look forward to many more.
"Volunteering is an escape from the normal
day to day routine and gives you the opportunity to do something
really valuable, the only cost is a little time. The
satisfaction you feel knowing that you are helping the charity
carry out their great work is priceless."
The NI Cancer Fund for Children provides
practical, emotional and social support to children and young
people diagnosed with cancer, their families, and those children
and young people living with cancer in a family member. To
facilitate this vital work, the charity relies heavily on the
support provided by volunteers.
If you would be willing to help in any of a
number of roles, including administrative duties, support at
fundraising events and helping at weekends at the charity's
youth facility Narnia, Newcastle contact Peter on 9080 5599 or