Video: Terminal cancer patient from Cookstown in Gaza mission trip

A Cookstown mother, who has been given just one year to live, is on her way to Gaza with four lorry loads of aid from across Northern Ireland.

Dorothy Gardner, known to friends as Dee, was diagnosed with cancer in February 2011 and has since undergone a double mastectomy, had her glands removed and undergone four courses of chemotherapy, as well as three weeks of radiotherapy.

However, despite all of the treatment she has had, she learned in January that her cancer is at stage three, and that she will die of the disease.

But instead of spending her final months convalescing, she told the Times she would rather be doing something to help those worse off than herself, and at the same time, leave a legacy of which her five-year-old son can be proud of.

“I have always been a humanitarian activist,” the 46-year-old told the Times.

“I am a woman with cancer, but from a personal point of view... I see myself in a first-world country with my rights.

Speaking about the people of Palestine, she added: “If that was my child, and they were in this country and that was happening... we would do something. We wouldn’t allow that to go on.

“It’s purely humanitarian”, she went on. “It’s not a sectarian issue, it’s not a political issue - it’s a humanitarian issue.

“We have rights - we can lead our lives how we want - but [people] in Palestine can’t.

“If we don’t get the aid in, people are going to die.”

Having handed over care of her little boy to his grandmother while she makes the journey, Ms Gardner said she speaks to him via Skype every day and that he tells her, ‘Mummy you’re so brave’.

Admittedly frightened of what might happen if they are caught, she added: “We are terrified inwardly, but we are going there to help the people.

“My cancer’s going to take me,” she said, “but if I can help save just one life, then I know that I have done something that makes it worth while.

“That’s the values that I want to give my son - to help others - he sees mummy as a hero, but I’m just Dorothy.”