When Carmel Loughlin lost her sister, Paula, to breast cancer, she and Paula’s husband and children decided to set up a Fund in Memory in her name. The money raised through her fund is helping us make sure that one day, every woman who develops breast cancer will live.

Friday 16 December 2016      Guest blog

Carmel with her family

For her boys

The day after the Twin Towers fell in New York in 2001, my sister Paula was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was only 36, and a mother to four young boys who were aged between eight and 16.

By the time her breast cancer was detected, it had already spread to her lymph nodes, so she had to start treatment immediately. She wanted to keep things as normal as possible for her boys, so would travel 180 miles each day to get to radiotherapy, making sure she was back before they got home from school. During her stays in hospital (she wasn’t a fan of hospital food!) we would have family dinners of Indian takeaway or pizza around the bed. It meant that, even just for a few minutes, things would feel normal.

A warrior

Every time the results came back and showed that the cancer had spread, first to her lungs and finally to her bones and liver, Paula stayed positive. She fought the disease like a warrior for seven years, fighting for her family, for her boys and for everyone who loved her.

Paula never stopped doing what she loved. She continued running – even completing the Dublin Marathon in 2004! And she watched her boys play football whenever she could.

During treatment, she wore the jazziest wigs – sometimes she’d change wigs halfway through the night, just to confuse everyone! We played Dancing Queen at her funeral because she was always the first on the dance floor and the last to leave it. She was an inspiration, and I miss her every day.

Despite everything that was going on in her life, Paula bravely agreed to be filmed by a local GP during her first year of treatment. She wanted to raise awareness of how breast cancer can affect young women. For years after, people would approach Paula and tell her how much she meant to them.

Why I set up a Fund in Memory

Throughout those seven years, Paula organised events to raise money both for breast cancer research and for the people who cared for her. We wanted to continue the incredible fundraising she started, so each year we do a run in her memory in our hometown. We call it ‘Paula’s Run’ and every time, people still come up to me and tell me stories about her.

20 February is Paula’s anniversary. It’s the hardest day of the year. Paula is still loved and missed by so many people that we knew we wanted to set up a fund to celebrate her life and keep her memory alive.

What is a Fund in Memory?

A Fund in Memory is a unique online page designed for anyone who’s lost a loved one to breast cancer. It allows people just like Carmel to celebrate a loved one’s life and share stories, treasured memories, photos and messages of support with friends and family.

By starting a fund, you’ll also be raising money for life-saving research so that, one day, no other family will have to face a future without the person they love.

It’s easy to set up a Fund in Memory. Simply visit inmemory.breastcancernow.org or contact us on 0333 20 70 300.