Lancaster woman bids to give back to CancerCare charity

Niamh Whittle with her mum Rachel.
Niamh Whittle with her mum Rachel.

A young woman whose life was turned upside down when her mum was diagnosed with breast cancer is planning to raise money to support a charity close to her heart.

Niamh Whittle hopes to raise as much money as possible for Lancaster charity CancerCare, which helped both her and her mum Rachel following the distressing diagnosis last year.

Rachel, of Bolton-le-Sands, suffered a heart attack in 2009 and was then diagnosed with breast cancer last year at the age of 49. She started chemotherapy on her daughter’s 18th birthday.

She is now recovering well, and spoke to the Lancaster Guardian earlier this year about her ordeal, and how CancerCare had helped. Rachel featured as one of the CancerCare’s ‘Knocker Jotter’ women – a group of brave women who bared their bodies in a unique jotter celebrating the strength of those battling cancer. The women are all members of Phoenix, an online group supported by CancerCare.

As well as Rachel seeking support from CancerCare, eventually her daughter Niamh turned to the charity for help.

“Mum had been offering me counselling for weeks and I thought that I was fine, but I did an interview in the Guardian with my mum and found I couldn’t cope with talking about it,” the 19-year-old said.

“I was worried because a lot of people think that you must have something wrong with you if you need counselling.

“I had never really heard of CancerCare before, but 10 months after my mum’s diagnosis, I began to have weekly counselling sessions.

“It was absolutely exhausting talking about how I felt.

“I didn’t realise how much mof my life had been impacted by my mum’s cancer but I couldn’t stop talking about it.

“I am now so much better in myself but I use CancerCare for regular sessions even now.

“Mum is doing really well too. At one point I thought she would never be OK because I had to watch her overcome two major health issues.

“She is unbelievably brave.”

Niamh, who works at The Lodge in Slyne, is now hoping to undertake a charity event in the near future in a bid to give something back to the charity which helped the family so much.

“I am doing it for my mum,” she said. “I have never done much fundraising myself before but I just wanted to do this because it’s a charity really close to my heart.”