The family of a 32-year-old mother of three diagnosed with a rare form of cancer has reached out to the community for help.
Michelle McCormick, from Woodvale in west Belfast, fell ill two days after having her third child and was later diagnosed with osteosarcoma.
Worse news was to follow for Michelle and her family when they learned her best hope of defeating the disease was a £200,000 trip to the USA.
Her big sister Nicky explained: “She had a baby and two days later she took sick, she was short of breath and in a lot of pain. She didn’t have a clue what it was.
“They did further tests for two weeks before they found out what it was.
“They found a clot on her lung. It’s a rare form of cancer called osteosarcoma.
“Michelle has never been sick before. This has come as a real shock to everyone.”
She added: “It hasn’t been removed. She’s getting chemotherapy.
“She visits the cancer centre at City Hospital where she gets chemotherapy. She’s in for four days Monday to Thursday every three weeks.
“That’s the only treatment that is available to her on the NHS. Because it’s such a rare form of cancer only experts can remove it.
“That’s why we’re trying to get together enough money to send her to Texas, where there are specialists in this type of cancer.”
Parker, who is four months old, is Michelle’s third child and her first boy. He was born on September 22, two days before Michelle fell ill.
She has another two daughters – Jersey, who is eight and Harper, who is two.
“She finds it very hard being away from the three of them,” said Nicky.
“Because of the treatment she has been receiving she hasn’t been able to spend the time she would have liked with her baby.
“Her youngest two don’t understand what’s going on and we’ve kept Jersey sheltered as best we can.”
Michelle, who has worked for Calor Gas for the past 10 years, has found strength in the support of her family and her partner Michael.
Her sister Nicky said: “We are a very, very close family.
“We’re doing everything we can for Michelle as she faces this.
“You’ve got to keep your head up and be positive. Her partner is exactly the same as us, very positive.”
Michelle, who is one of four sisters, enjoys going to the gym and dining out with her family.
Nicky said: “We need to raise £200,000 for Michelle to go to Texas for specialist treatment.
“It’s not the sort of money you have sitting about in savings.
“We’ve asked the community for help and their response has been amazing.
“The generosity has been amazing so far.”
Gareth McKeown, from Community First, one of those groups fundraising for Michelle, said: “This is when we need the whole community to pull together and stand up and help a local girl out. We need everyone to dig in and together we can achieve this.”
As well as other activities, the community group plan to sell ballots for a chance to win a family holiday to Florida.