Wedding Service

Glengormley woman praises cancer charity for helping her late mother share the ‘most amazing day’ of her wedding just weeks before she died

It’s a stunning photograph of a loving mum with her daughter on her wedding day – but behind the smiles Deirdre Whyte was living with a terminal cancer diagnosis.

Within two months, the mum-of-three passed away, but not before she opened up about the incredible service that helped her shine on her only daughter’s big day.

Deirdre is one of thousands of people across Northern Ireland who have been supported by Cancer Focus NI as they try to get on with life while battling cancer at the same time.

Now, to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Cancer Focus NI is launching its Girls’ Night In campaign to help it continue its vital work helping women like Deirdre.

The Glengormley wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2020 after discovering a lump in her left breast.

Her daughter, Debbie, explained: ‘I had to stay outside and wait for her because of Covid and it was awful because I saw all these people coming and going and she was taking so long.

“I was there when they told mum she had cancer and it was real, but it didn’t feel real either.

“Even mum had been very positive beforehand, saying it was probably a cyst, but it was a 10cm tumour.”

Deirdre soon underwent a mastectomy and the removal of a number of lymph nodes, followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

The following summer, however, she began to experience back pain and a CT scan revealed a number of tumors.

“It was July 7 last year, I will never forget it, it was my little boy’s birthday,” Debbie said.

While doctors told Deirdre it was possible to treat the cancer, they said they would be unable to cure her of the disease.

Once again, Deirdre began brutal chemotherapy treatment, but scans revealed that the tumors had grown.

At this point, she made the secret decision to no longer attend exam appointments.

Debbie continued: ‘It was happening at my hen party and I think mum knew but she didn’t want to know for sure and she didn’t tell us.

“I got married on May 27 this year and we had the most amazing day, mum was beautiful.

“She had the most amazing day of her life, she looked so beautiful and you would have never heard of her mastectomy.”

Deirdre herself spoke about the experience before she passed away just a month ago on 9/11, she said, “After a really tough week, the hour I spent at Cancer Focus NI adjusting my bra really lifted my spirits.

“It was wonderful to work with a specialist who knew exactly how to fit a bra to my body and it made me feel so confident and find myself after undergoing changes from my breast surgery.

“I cannot recommend the bra fitting service highly enough and thanks to the expert team at Cancer Focus NI, I was able to feel confident and beautiful on one of the most special occasions of my life.”

Unfortunately, just two weeks after the wedding at the Leighinmohr House Hotel in Ballymena, Deirdre’s condition deteriorated and she was admitted to the Hospice of Northern Ireland for pain management.

She remained there until her death last month.

Debbie continued: “My mom has had a tough journey since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020.

“She would never let cancer stop her from doing the things she loved – spending time with her children, grandchildren, family and friends.

“She showed great determination and strength through this horrible disease. My mom fought till the end and saved all her strength for my wedding day and she looked like a million bucks.

“We were so grateful to the bra fitting experts at Cancer Focus NI who helped make this goal a reality. I’m so glad she was able to create more great memories over the time it took her. remained.

Debbie continued: “I hope my mum’s story highlights the importance of always getting symptoms checked if you feel something is wrong.

“No matter what life throws at you, get up every morning, be grateful, and make every second count.”

Rosie Forsythe of Cancer Focus NI, said: “One in 10 women in Northern Ireland is diagnosed with breast cancer, the most common cancer in women.

“About 1,450 local women are diagnosed here every year.

“This year we are raising funds for our breast cancer services which are essential in providing local women with the support they need, when they need it.

“With services such as counselling, art therapy, bra fitting services, family support and peer support, our unique offering makes a real difference for women going through one the most difficult periods of their lives.”

To learn more about Cancer Focus NI or its Girls’ Night In campaign, log on to www.cancerfocusni.org.