Friends of a young mum who is battling a rare form of cancer are lending their support with a series of upcoming fundraisers in Carrickfergus.
Tracy McSparron, 28, was diagnosed with the aggressive condition Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma in June.
“I had went up to Antrim hospital with a sore shoulder; at first they thought it was a blood clot as I was having pain when I was breathing in,” said Tracy, originally from the Eden area of the town.
“Then they sent me for a scan and noticed these nodules around my lung.”
Further scans showed that tumours had spread to the lymph nodes and adrenal gland.
In August Tracy, who is mum to Lee (nine), and seven-year-old Luke, was given the news that her form of cancer was most likely terminal.
“I was told that on average, people survive this type of cancer for about three years,” Tracy added. “The quicker it’s discovered, the more successfully it can be treated. I just don’t know how long I’ve had it.”
Despite the devastating news, the local mum is keeping a positive outlook.
“I may have been told three years, but it’s my job to prove that wrong. Three years in medical terms is a long time, and I like to think that some kind of drug, operation or procedure could be discovered in that time, if not here then at least in some part of the world.
“I’ve just finished the second of six cycles of chemo and just before my fourth cycle I’ll have another scan to see how it’s going, so I’m just having to wait and see.
“At the minute, I’m focusing on the boys; everything’s been very up and down for them since I was diagnosed and they’ve been passed from pillar to post.
“They’re very young but I try to be honest about anything they ask me about the cancer.”
Tracy, who now lives in Antrim, is hoping to take both her young sons on a family holiday over Christmas.
“We’re trying to make happy memories that they’ll have forever,” she added.
An online ‘GoFundMe’ page set up by Tracy’s friend, Debi Bowen, has already seen an overwhelming number of donations since it was set up last month.
Praising the positive response to the appeal, Tracy said:“It’s absolutely amazing how people in Carrickfergus will rally round when someone is sick; it’s just that sort of town.
“It just makes you realise how much people care for you and how generous they are.”
And in further support of efforts to organise a trip for the family, Tracy’s friend Gareth McIlwrath and others have organised a series of fundraising activities in the coming weeks.
The first of these is a family fun day and car boot sale this Saturday from 2-6pm at Sunnylands Community Centre and Cafe Rose.
“There will be music, bouncy castles, wrestling, barbecue, tombola, food from Flippin’ Crepes and Dinky Donuts and much more,” Gareth told the Times.
“We have had huge support from local businesses.”
Meanwhile, a second night in support of Tracy will be hosted at Carrick Castle RAOB Club on October 8, starting at 8pm.
The evening will include music by Full Circle, who, according to the club, will be giving their time freely for the cause.
Tickets for the fundraiser are £7 each; for more information, see the Carrick Castle RAOB Facebook page.
There will also be a fundraising tractor pull in Islandmagee on the same date.