Siobhan ‘grateful’ for backing after receiving shock cancer diagnosis

Siobhan ‘grateful’ for backing after receiving shock cancer diagnosis

10 October 2018

AS Siobhan McCann, a Gaelic footballer from Clanvaraghan, near Castlewellan, tackles cancer, dozens of women players will line up on Saturday to help her take on her “toughest opponent”.

Twenty-four teams will take part in the Help Beat Siobhan’s Toughest Opponent ladies’ sevens competition to be hosted by her club, St John’s GAC, Drumnaquoile, and Castlewellan GAC.

The once physically fit and highly active young woman’s life was turned upside down practically overnight when she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in April.

“I have gone from working for Kane Group Building Services in London, playing Gaelic for Dulwich Harps, physio for Fulham Irish and playing tag rugby to waiting on the next treatment,” said the 26 year-old. 

Following 25 rounds of chemotherapy, Siobhan was given the devastating news in July that the cancer had spread to her liver as she waited for surgery to remove the tumour.

To face “the toughest opponent of my life”, Siobhan needs £100,000 to pay for life-prolonging medication.

It’s hoped that the non-NHS available drug, Bevacizumab (Avastin), will keep Siobhan well until it is possible for her to have surgery.

Close friends and family have rallied around the former senior Down player to raise money for the treatment.

Led by Cormac McMullan, Bria Cunningham and Alan Henderson, £60,000 has already been raised through a Go Fund Me fundraising appeal.

However, a local Gaelic football event hopes to raise more this weekend to meet the target.

Siobhan and the organisers have been overwhelmed by the support the appeal has received from GAA clubs from Northern Ireland, the Republic and England in Saturday’s competition in Castlewellan.

Local clubs taking part are St John’s, Ballykinlar, Castlewellan, Dundrum, Ballymartin, Bryansford, Kilcoo, Carryduff, Downpatrick, Teconnaught, and Loughinisland.

There will be also be a coffee morning, raffle, auction and live music in the evening.

Siobhan, a former pupil of St Malachy’s High School, Castlewellan, said she was “overwhelmed and grateful” for the “help, love and support” she has received in recent months.

“There are not enough words to describe how I feel,”she said. “It is unbelievable how friends, family and communities can come together”.

Siobhan took her first round of Bevacizumab 12 days ago and is still going through chemotherapy.

The chemotherapy leaves her without “the energy to hold a conversation”, often feeling “helpless, weak and tired”.

Although she says her life has been “a roller coaster” since moving back home, she is braving her condition well.

In the early days of her diagnosis, Siobhan last played for Dulwich Harps on June 23 in their championship final.

She has been involved in sports since the age of five, playing Gaelic football, camogie for her club, school and county, as well as netball for her school, Northern Ireland and South Eastern teams. 

Friends report that Siobhan badly misses playing sport, but she will be deeply touched when her former team-mates and opponents gather together.

Play on Saturday starts at 10am. It’s free admission for spectators but there will be a bucket collection along with the raffle and auction at the coffee morning.

Some of the top auction prizes include a signed Manchester United jersey, signed Dublin jersey, two tickets for Liverpool v Newcastle in Anfield, a helicopter ride around the Mournes and a signed Christy Moore painting valued at £2,000.

To donate to the appeal, visit