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Omagh woman’s trek to battle pancreatic cancer

AN Omagh woman who lost her father to pancreatic cancer last year is stepping up her preparations for an epic 110 kilometre fund-raising hike across the latter stages of the famous Camino de Santiago trail.
 
Chereen Clarke will join four friends on the daunting challenge in late September in an effort to raise funds and awareness of the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action.
Her father – Terry McGoldrick – was a well-known Omagh business man who worked as a television and aerial engineer.
 
He was diagnosed with cancer in February and passed away just six months later.
Chereen recalls, “When I look back now after discovering Pancreatic Cancer Action, my father had several symptoms, poor appetite, indigestion, fatigue, no interest in food, yellowing of the eyes and trouble swallowing. My father suffered with these pains for months until February 12, 2016, the pains were just too much and he attended our local accident and emergency department. 
 
“There he met a wonderful Polish doctor… she examined him and knew something was seriously wrong so rushed him by ambulance to South West Acute Hospital. On February 14, 2016, my mother’s birthday, my father was diagnosed with secondary cancer, it had started in the pancreas. 
 
“He was determined to fight it and so were we. We were then told on the March 3, 2016, my birthday, it was terminal. This was devastating.
 
“My father received chemotherapy to prolong his life, in Altnagelvin Hospital Cancer unit, until he passed away on August 8, 2016, nearly six months after being diagnosed. He only retired from work the year before.”
 
Chereen said her dad “made the most of his last months” visiting Croke Park and his favourite holiday spot in Westport.
 
“Sadly many patients do not get this length of time. Pancreatic Cancer has low survival rates. Just five per-cent of patients survive – it has the worst survival rate of all 22 cancers. Pancreatic Cancer is the fifth biggest killer.
 
“Pancreatic Cancer Action want to stamp out late detection which is the reason the survival rate has remained at just two-five per-cent for nearly 50 years.”
 
With the clock ticking down to September 28, when the group will depart for Spain, Chereen says the increase in training has tested her endurance.
 
“I like walking and would be out quite often, but we have been doing more hiking recently as part of the training, and it has been tough. We are going to be walking up to 20 miles each day. But it will all be worth it, if we can raise awareness and help fight this cancer.”
• To donate to Chereen’s charity trek along the Camino, visit – www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chereen-clarke
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