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Lisburn man raises £16,000 for Belfast City Hospital’s Cancer Unit

11th November 2022

Connor McBratney with Allison McCrea outside City Hospital

Lisburn man Connor McBratney has donated £16,300 to Belfast City Hospital’s Oncology Unit in memory of his father Michael McBratney.

Connor recently presented the generous donation to Dr Gerry Hanna, Consultant Oncologist, Belfast Trust and staff from the Oncology Unit to mark Lung Cancer Awareness month which takes place in November.

Connor and his friends completed a gruelling 480-mile cycle from Mizen to Malin in June 2022 to mark the 20th anniversary of Michael’s death and raise awareness of signs and symptoms of lung cancer.

Michael McBratney, who had worked in Kilroot Power Station as a Mechanical Engineer, died in 2002, following a short cancer illness.

Connor explains:

“My Dad Michael was only 36 years old when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was a young and fit man and he didn’t smoke so it was a shock when we found out about his illness. I was only 11 years old and my brothers 8 and 7, but I can remember us all visiting my dad in the City Hospital and how well he was cared for during that time. My dad was always a cheeky chap and even during the worst of his illness, he enjoyed the banter with all the staff, who supported dad and our whole family during a very tough time.

“Dad was always a really active guy and so I thought it was appropriate to set myself this cycling challenge to remember him and raise funds to support other families going through their cancer journey. There was a brilliant atmosphere during the cycle and I’m so grateful to all the lads who took part as this total raised wasn’t possible without them. Sadly, everyone had their own experiences of cancer within their own families but that made everyone all the more motivated to get through the hard miles and over the many, many hills!”

Pictured: Connor McBratney, Allison McCrea, Professor Gerry Hanna, Paula Scullin and Andrew Stewart presenting cheque donation in front of Northern Ireland Cancer Centre sign

As well as raising funds for the Oncology Unit, Connor is sharing his story to encourage everyone to contact their GP if they experience any signs or symptoms of cancer. Connor, who is dad to Isla (3) and Josiah (6) wants to encourage men to seek help if they are worried about their health:

“My Dad’s cancer was very advanced by the time he was diagnosed and I’ll always wonder if the outcome could have been different if he was diagnosed sooner. I would urge anyone with a persistent cough, unexplained weight loss or any changes that are worrying you to please contact your GP. I recently had a persistent cough and because of my family history, I was checked out and thankfully everything was ok. But I know that for some men, in particular, it’s easy to ignore symptoms or put off contacting your GP.

“My dad was a great dad and I’m so humbled and happy to show my support for the great people and health service who looked after him”.

Lung cancer is the most common and serious type of cancer and the fourth most common among men in Northern Ireland. Symptoms include a cough that won’t go away, coughing up blood, breathlessness and weight loss.

Professor Gerry Hanna, Consultant Oncologist, at Belfast Trust said:

“Between 70 and 80% of cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking but lung cancer can also occur in non-smokers like Michael – anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. If you’re a smoker, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Over the last decade, new advances in lung cancer treatments have markedly improved outcomes for patients with lung cancer. I would urge anyone who is experiencing any worrisome symptoms such as coughing up blood, unexplained chest pain, persistent breathlessness, a cough for more than 3 weeks or a long-standing cough that gets worse, unexplained weight loss or tiredness, to please contact your GP urgently.

“On behalf of the Oncology Unit at Belfast Trust I want to thank Connor and everyone who supported his fundraising efforts. This generous donation will help us to continue to develop our Oncology service and support local families experiencing cancer”.