Charlie’s birthday brunch in aid of children’s cancer unit

by Gillian McDade

A COOKSTOWN mother whose child was diagnosed with leukaemia has organised a fundraising event in aid of the Northern Ireland Children’s Cancer Unit Fund.

Cliodhna Craig (neé Eastwood), who now lives in Lisburn and her husband Fintan have a beautiful son Charlie, who will be three next month.

Earlier this year, the couple were given the devastating news by doctors in the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children that Charlie had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).

However, they clung onto the hope given by the doctors that leukaemia these days is ‘very treatable’.

On Saturday, June 15, Charlie’s family and friends will raise funds for the Northern Ireland Children’s Cancer Unit Fund (NICCUF) at a family fun day and birthday brunch, taking place at St Patrick’s Parish Centre, Chapel Hill, Lisburn from 9am to 4pm. They have already raised several thousand pounds but are hoping to add to this fantastic total.

Cliodhna’s parents are Des and Nuala Eastwood from the town, and her brother Jim recently appeared on BBC show The Apprentice.

Charlie’s Birthday Brunch features an all day breakfast with fun and entertainment for all the family, including a tombola, with the chance to win some fantastic prizes.

Following his diagnosis, little Charlie was immediately admitted to the Children’s Cancer Unit in the Royal Hospital, where he is currently undergoing six months of treatment.

Cliodhna said the diagnosis was devastating for the whole family but added that they managed to be positive in the face of adversity.

Having recovered from the initial shock of seeing Charlie in a ward with lots of other children suffering from cancer, his parents realised that it was difficult for Charlie, but nevertheless a very special place to be.

The unit is supported by the Northern Ireland Children’s Cancer Unit Fund, a registered charity depending on donations from supporters, especially in Northern Ireland.

Medical and nursing services are provided at the fund’s dedicated unit in the hospital, which has an eight-bed Children’s Haematology Unit, a team of three consultants, 17 nurses, a community liaison worker, two social workers and laboratory staff.
 Since its formation, the unit has contributed substantially to improved survival rates of children. If treated in time, over 75 per cent survive cancer and 90 per cent survive blood disorders such as leukaemia.

Money raised by NICCUF enables hospital staff to make a child’s stay in hospital more tolerable by improving the facilities, buying equipment and in general making it a happier place for a child requiring intensive treatment over a prolonged stay.

“We would love to be able to donate funds to NICCUF in return for everything they are doing for Charlie and all the other kids,” said mum Cliodhna.

“We invite everyone to come along to the birthday brunch, have fun and help raise funds for this very worthy cause.

Cliodhna is participating in a mini marathon on June 3 with her sister and a friend and all proceeds will again go to NICCUF.

“We are so grateful to all our family and friends who have already helped us to raise an amazing £3,000 but we would like to push our efforts even further for this extremely worthy cause,” she added.

“Every faith in the town is praying for us and we want to thank everyone.”

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