Co Down cancer battle mum Emma Carragher goes the extra mile to say thank you

A Co Down woman is to complete a 200km fundraising walk just six weeks after ‘ringing the bell’ to declare that she is cancer-free.

Emma Carragher (38), a mum-of-four from Burren, is walking every day this month in aid of Cancer Fund for Children.

She aims to raise awareness and acknowledge those who looked after her and her family during the hardest times.

In June 2019 Emma, a home economics teacher at St Mark’s High School, was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes.

With their children all aged under 10, the diagnosis hit Emma and husband Ronan hard.

“Family is my top priority and always will be,” she said. “That’s the reason why this charity is so important to me because I just think, for me, and I’m sure most other women who are diagnosed, all you care about is your children.

“When I was going through it all, all I worried about was them. This charity believes family is everything and children are the priority and need to be protected and helped through all these horrible things that they’re having to witness.”

She said having a young family made her diagnosis all the more difficult.

“It isn’t easy for them,” she continued. “They were so young when I was diagnosed. My eldest Ryan was eight, Aidan was seven, Grace was four and Daithi was just shy of his second birthday.
“They all dealt with it really well, we were always really honest with them. Ronan and I are so proud of them.”

Throughout her journey, with the help of her oncologists, her breast care nurse Annie, Cancer Fund for Children and her family, Emma wanted to remain active in the children’s lives.

“I think when they are so young you tend to put your own positive spin on everything,” she said. “You tell them: ‘Mummy’s great. Mummy’s up. Mummy’s dressed today’. I just stuck to routine, exactly as normal, it didn’t matter if there were football tournaments to go to, we went. If there was youth club, they went. I left them off, I picked them up, it didn’t knock me out of routine.”

“There were days I was driven home from chemo and I would say, no, I’m going to drive over and I’m going to pick them up, just so they could see me participate in the day to day things.”

Emma explained how during her treatment Daisy Lodge run by Cancer Fund for Children was a haven. The charity relies solely on donations and works tirelessly to soften the blow a cancer diagnosis and treatment has on families.

She added: “Daisy Lodge is called this because it’s supposed to be a happy, sunny place for families to go to, and it really is.

“When we went the first time we met a family with four kids, and their mummy had breast cancer and their kids were similar ages to ours, so it was great for the kids to meet a family in a similar situation to our own.”

“We’ve kept in touch and it has been a lovely friendship. It’s nice to speak to people who are going through the exact same experience as you.”

Emma is waiting to have one more surgery, but remains positive. Her recovery motivated her to take on this challenge and she has smashed her £2,500 target.

“Everyone has been so kind,” she said. “I am so overwhelmed by all the support. I really am so grateful for every donation.”

To sponsor Emma, visit children