A Cookstown family who have been visiting Charis since husband and dad Cyril Loughran was diagnosed with leukaemia four years ago, is urging everyone to pick up the phone and vote for the charity that has helped them so much, in next Monday’s (Nov 24) People’s Millions TV contest.
“I was diagnosed with leukaemia in October 2010 and that’s when the journey started,” Cyril told the Mail.
“I had three sessions of chemo, then I was back in in February and had a stem-cell transplant.
“When I started to get back up on my feet again somebody told me about Charis and I contacted Imelda, and she said ‘come up and have a wee look around and see what you think’.”
Cyril’s wife Michelle, who has also used the facilities at Charis, added: “Cyril was going up one day for treatment, so I went up with him. Imelda got me into the big recliners, pushed me away back and the next thing I was sleeping.
“It was the most relaxing hour I had in a long time, it was that quiet and peaceful looking out at that lough - it was heaven.”
On top of dealing with leukaemia, The Loughrans and their three children, aged 13-26, have seen Cyril suffer through chemotherapy, a stem cell and liver transplant, and although now in remission from leukaemia, he has developed Chronic Graft Versus Host disease - which means his body is fighting off his brother’s donated stem cells.
But through it all, they said Charis has been by their sides.
“That hour is priceless,” Cyril said. “You just forget about everything - it’s just so relaxing.
“From you go in through that door, you are made to feel like you are the most important person in the country.
“I’ve been through the wars, but as long as I have breath I will keep going”, and although he suffers almost every day Cyril added, “that wee hour at Charis helps me to keep going.”
“They get to know you,” added Michelle, “They know when you are having a bad day or a good day, when you’re down in the dumps or not sleeping - they are great.
“I might walk in there with worries in my head, but it is just so peaceful - they’re so helpful, they’re so kind. No matter what it is, they listen.
“At Charis, you’re met with a big smile and a cup of tea, bikkies and a comfortable seat.”
Both Cyril and Michelle have been for treatment at the centre, while their children have benefitted from a referral through Charis to Cancer Care for Children, through which the whole family have been able to enjoy some respite from Cyril’s illness.
“My eldest would have looked through the internet to find Cyril’s diagnosis, and came up with the worst,” Michelle explained.
“It was just doom and gloom, and I was dead and buried almost,” said Cyril.
“Imelda got word of holidays and respite for the kids - so we went for a week to Newcastle in a lovely wee log cabin.”
Charis has ONE DAY ONLY to secure this £50,000 and is asking people across Northern Ireland to pick up the phone and vote for CHARIS New Ways of Thinking between, 9am and Midnight.
Voting details will be revealed in the Daily Mirror on November 24, on UTV Live at 6pm and at www.peoplesmillions.org.uk – please give Charis your votes (up to ten on the day - but we didn’t tell you that).