Ballyronan cancer survivor Lorraine Henry leads Race for Life campaign

Left to right, Lorraine's niece Rebecca Roper, 12, Lorraine Henry, 46, Rosie Henry, 14, Lorraine's sister Lisa Roper, 42, and Anna Henry, 11.
Left to right, Lorraine's niece Rebecca Roper, 12, Lorraine Henry, 46, Rosie Henry, 14, Lorraine's sister Lisa Roper, 42, and Anna Henry, 11.

A breast cancer survivor from Ballyronan has shared the highs and lows of her battle with the disease, as she prepares to lead a new campaign.

Lorraine Henry chosen to star in Cancer Research UK’s new campaign is urging women across the province to sign up for a Race for Life Belfast event this spring and help save lives

The 46-year-old is standing shoulder to shoulder with her daughters, Rosie, 14, and Anna, 11, sister Lisa Roper, 42, and niece Rebecca Roper, 12, on the frontline against cancer by taking part in Race for Life 5K at Belfast’s Stormont Estate on May 29.

Now, united by a determination to beat cancer sooner, the family is urging other mums, daughters, sisters, aunties and friends to follow their lead, form their own mini regiments and swell the ranks of Race for Life’s pink army by signing up at www.raceforlife.org

“I feel so proud to be part of a powerful, passionate, pink army of women at the frontline in the fight against cancer,” said Lorraine.

“It hit me like a train when I was told I had cancer. I was in shock. Right from the start, doctors said my cancer was very treatable and recovery rates were good. I tried to stay calm but even then there were moments when I was fearful. But cancer made me realise I have a lot of lovely women in my life.

Left to right Lorraine Henry during chemo treatment with her sister Lisa Roper.

Left to right Lorraine Henry during chemo treatment with her sister Lisa Roper.

“I started a group on Facebook called sisters which was a place I could go online to chat as a group to my own sisters, Fiona and Lisa but also the close knit gang of best friends who were there for me 24/7 to get me through cancer. Even when I was in hospital just hours away from surgery, these strong women sent me little messages and photos to distract and even make me smile. It was a bit like a virtual version of the ITV morning show, Loose Women. I’m resisting the urge to sing the Aretha Franklin classic, ‘Sisters are doing it for themselves’ but it really was like that. Their banter helped me stay strong. I’m proud they’re going to join me at Race for Life. We’ve called our team Star Sisters. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the chance to raise money for vital research to help make treatments better and kinder for people going through cancer.”

Last March, Lorraine, an occupational therapist had a mastectomy followed by six sessions of chemotherapy. Lorraine completed treatment on August 12.

Now back at work, Lorraine is taking the drug tamoxifen for the next five years and will get an annual check up.

She has wise words for anyone today going through treatment.

I was in hospital just hours away from surgery, these strong women sent me little messages and photos to distract and even make me smile

Lorraine Henry

She said: “It helps to live day by day and not to look too far in to the future.”

“I still try to live that way now. It helps to get support too. My mum and dad were brilliant all the way through the treatment. Little things like coming home from a chemotherapy session to see beautiful flowers delivered to me from my parents made all the difference in the world. I know many people are going through cancer right now.

“I’m urging the brave ladies of Northern Ireland to take action right now - please sign up to Race for Life and help fund vital research which will help more people beat this devastating disease.”

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring women-only series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and marathon events which raises millions of pounds every year to help fund life-saving research.

Breast cancer survivor Lorraine Henry portrait

Breast cancer survivor Lorraine Henry portrait

Jean Walsh, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Northern Ireland, said: “Taking part is about being part of a collective force of powerful women - of all ages - leading the charge against cancer.”

To enter Race for Life today go to raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.