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Brave Northern Ireland mum has hair cut off live online as fight against cancer goes on

By Angela Rainey

An east Belfast mum battling pancreatic cancer has made an emotional video of the moment she lost her blonde hair.

Aundrea McElveen-Bannatyne (42) bravely recorded the painful moment as part of her campaign to raise £200,000 for life-prolonging treatment in Germany.

She was given the devastating news in July that an inoperable tumour was wrapped around her pancreas and secondary lesions were in her liver.

Hope was renewed when Aundrea found out she could be treated at the Hallwang Clinic in Frankfurt, but a single injection costs £9,000 and treatment is likely to exceed £200,000.

Aundrea - mum to sons Jack (14) and James (10) - must also pay £2,800 a month to Belfast's City Hospital for "top-up chemo".

She said: "When I wake up in the morning or brush my hair, clumps of it are coming out in my hands because of the chemo.

"I asked my dad if he would cut it but he didn't want to, he wanted a hairdresser to do it, but I said no I wanted him to do it.

"I love hair, make-up and glamour and anyone who knows me knows how I love to look my best, so it was very hard.

"In the grand scheme of things I am sad to have to lose my hair, but I have to stay focused on battling cancer."

This is the second time the family have faced cancer. Aundrea's son James was diagnosed with neuroblastoma aged just two years old.

"I keep people posted on Facebook of updates of how I am doing, but they don't see the days when I feel so ill I want to give up," Aundrea added.

"I try to stay positive but it is hard to keep going, but I wanted to have my hair cut live to show people I am not always upbeat.

"I am a positive person but they don't see the days where I am in pain and the days where I sleep for 18 hours and can't eat. But their support has been fantastic from donations to texts and messages willing me to keep going. And I am driven by the love for my kids. My son has been through this and I'm determined I will fight it like he did."

So far the tearful video has been viewed thousands of times with many commenting how distraught they felt seeing Aundrea and her family's suffering.

The treatment is not available on the NHS and can only be accessed abroad. Specialists at the German clinic, which also treated actress Farrah Fawcett, say that pancreatic cancer has a life expectancy of up to one year, but they remain positive Aundrea is progressing well.

Since the diagnosis, thousands of people from around the world, including actor James Nesbitt, have pledged their support by forming #aundreasarmy.

Together they helped raise funds for Aundrea's initial treatment at the clinic and set up a gofundme page which is currently just short of £70,000.

Donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com

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