The local community has continued to rally around Omagh woman Jemma McGowan as the mother-of-three battling terminal illness is set to depart for Mexico to begin her treatment earlier than expected.
Jemma begins her treatment for ovarian cancer at an alternative treatment centre in Mexico on Monday, while multiple fundraisers continue to raise money for her locally.
A GoFundMe page set up by Jemma and husband Clive has raised more than £154,000 to fund her treatment and travel to Mexico, but several events raised by local businesses, organisations and sports clubs have raised even more money for her and her family.
A raffle organised by Jemma’s step-sister Rachel Jardine included prizes donated by at least 45 local businesses.
Rachel told the UH the family are putting the final preparations in ahead of their trip to Mexico, which begins tomorrow (Friday).
“Jemma is up to her eyes at the minute now trying to get everything packed and ready to go,” Rachel said.
“We have always been close and we’ve done weddings together and grew up together. This has hit home for us more than anything that life is very short and you just don’t know what is going to come around to your front door.
“Jemma was able to raise the money for her treatment quite quickly, but she will more than likely have to go more than once.
“Her and her husband are both not working any more and as much as cancer takes hold, bills keep coming regardless. That’s why we wanted to help them raise more money to help them pay their bills, their mortgage and clothe and feed their children, as it will be difficult for them to do that with no money coming in.”
Omagh Accies Ladies rugby team held a breakfast morning last weekend, raising £1,700 to support Jemma and her family.
Team captain, RJ McKeown, said the Omagh woman’s story was close to the team’s hearts, as Jemma’s sister-in-law Carrie is a current playing member.
“We have had our minds blown by the generosity of the community. All of the team grouped together and put their necks out to raise money for Jemma.
“We were very fortunate in that all of the food items, equipment and prizes were donated or made by local people and businesses and that means every penny we raised goes directly to Jemma and her family.”
Jemma will undergo 21 days of treatment at the centre in Mexico, which specialises in alternative, non-toxic cancer therapies such as Sono-Photo Dynamic Therapy.
“Clive and I have just been swept away by the immense generosity of everyone over the past few weeks who donated to our GoFundMe, organised fundraisers, and sent donations and gifts to us,” she said in an update on her GoFundMe page.
“All this in such a short space of time that it has now been possible to fast-track my trip to Mexico and start my first 21-day treatment programme much sooner than we ever could have dreamt,” she added.
WATCH MORE: Interview with Jemma McGowan as she set up her fundraising campaign