A LERWICK woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer just months before her 30th birthday is urging local people to donate anything they can to CLAN, the Aberdeen-based charity that provides emotional and practical support to people affected by cancer.
Rhianne Colvin said she was “absolutely devastated” and could not believe it when she was diagnosed with the disease in March, at a time the Covid-19 crisis was about to hit.
“I went away to Aberdeen for tests and walked into [accommodation facility] CLAN Haven, with no idea why I was really going there, but I knew I needed help,” she said.
“They were so welcoming and friendly. I was receiving counselling once a week but that member of staff was furloughed, and again I felt like I was alone in the world of cancer again. I knew I had to do something to help.”
CLAN Haven, which is used by people attending cancer treatment at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, closed on 8 May to implement safety measures to protect cancer patients from the Covid-19 threat. It will reopen as soon as it is deemed to be safe to do so.
In response Rhianne set up a fundraiser on Facebook for her 30th birthday on 22 May, hoping to raise a modest £150 for the charity.
She said she was overwhelmed by people’s generosity when four weeks later almost 500 folk had contributed raising a grand total of £8,615.
And in this Rhianne is not alone; her step mother Laureen Johnston raised £1,355 for CLAN a few months ago and Laureen’s sister Wilma Anderson, who received treatment for leukaemia last year, raised a further £5,200 for the charity.
Wilma said: “Clan Aberdeen and Shetland was a huge support to me and my family while I was receiving my treatment. Clan Shetland has been a continuous support since my treatment has finished.”
Rhianne said: “I really hope CLAN can use all this to transform their CLAN Haven accommodation, and buy PPE to protect cancer patients from Covid-19.
“I have to travel often for treatment and scans in Aberdeen, and I am missing staying at CLAN, and meeting others that are in similar boats to me. Their service is invaluable to the people in the isles.
“My message to anyone who can is to donate anything you can to CLAN in this difficult time.
“It’s extremely difficult coping with cancer in ‘normal’ circumstances, but it has been intensified by Covid-19 and people living with cancer need support now more than ever.”
She added: “I would also urge people who find possible cancer signs to seek medical advice as soon as possible and not to be frightened because of Covid-19”.
CLAN’s head of business development and income generation Fiona Fernie, said the charity was “incredibly grateful” for Rhianne, Laureen and Wilma and the “tremendous amount of money” – over £15,000 – they have raised.
“Their enthusiasm and dedication shows the importance of the support CLAN offers to anyone affected by a cancer diagnosis, and their families,” she said.
“The ladies have worked incredibly hard – and continue to do so, and the money they have already raised will go directly towards helping our services continue on Shetland.”
CLAN relies entirely upon support from donations and fundraising and needs around £2.5 million a year to run its network of services in the northeast of Scotland including Shetland and Orkney. Its Lerwick centre is currently closed due to the pandemic.
Although CLAN Haven is closed at present the charity continues to be available and can signpost people towards safe accommodation in Aberdeen.
Fernie added: “Due to the coronavirus pandemic, CLAN has had to cancel its major fundraising events which has left us with a significant deficit in our budget, which we must make up in order to continue to provide our services effectively.
“We have launched our Here for You appeal asking everyone to donate £10 or whatever they can afford to help CLAN during this difficult time.”
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