Cancer support unit to honour SF man
A new cancer support network is being established in west Belfast to honour the memory of Sinn Fein politician Michael Ferguson who died from the disease earlier this year.
Macmillan Cancer Support and the West Belfast Partnership, of which Mr Ferguson was vice-chair up until his death, have teamed up to help increase awareness of the charity's services for sufferers in the west of the city.
Mr Ferguson, a 53-year-old father-of-four, died suddenly in September just two months after he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer.
The West Belfast assemblyman and Lisburn City councillor had been due to start a course a chemotherapy at the time of his death. He had also just gone public on his battle against the disease in a bid to raise awareness on testicular cancer.
Emma Rea, fund-raising manager at Macmillan Cancer Support said: " Awareness of the cancer issue was high following the death of Michael Ferguson, as he bravely fought the illness in the public eye.
"Macmillan had already been working with some groups and individuals in the area.
"Now we hope to formalise our activities, making it easier for people living with cancer to access information and support."
The West Belfast Partnership is to host an information evening at its Falls Road office next Tuesday (December 5) at 7pm.
Ms Rea added: "At the event we will make people aware of our services and one of our Macmillan nurses, who is based in the Royal and provides front line support in west Belfast, will be speaking about her work and how we support local people living with cancer.
"Macmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer.
"We provide practical, medical, emotional and financial support as well as push for better cancer care, and I would invite anyone interested in the issues to come along on the night."
Big-hearted west Belfast people have already raised £1,450 at a coffee morning held in the offices of the partnership the same week Mr Ferguson passed away.
Geraldine McAteer, chief executive of the West Belfast Partnership, said the politician's death was "devastating" for staff there.
"Through his illness he was passionate in his support for the Macmillan Cancer Support charity," she said.
"Indeed, one of his last pieces of work was to organise the coffee morning at our offices, along with similar events in schools across west Belfast.
"Our partnership is delighted at the large sum of money raised to help Macmillan through the coffee morning and we are also delighted to help the new west Belfast cancer network to get off the ground.
"I hope this lasting legacy will be of some comfort to Michael Ferguson's family and everyone touched by the cancer issue in our city."