Mum of the Year Joyce wants you to don your best hat in aid of brain tumour research
A local mum who lost her son to cancer last year is urging people to wear a hat today in aid of the charity Brain Tumour Research.
Belfast Telegraph Mum of the Year Joyce Craig has teamed up with a local milliner for the first of what she hopes will become an annual fundraising event in memory of her boy.
Joyce lost Michael (25) in February 2015, just six months after he was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour. Well-known hat designer Grainne Maher will open her Belfast shop The Vault tonight for a special event in memory of Michael and to raise funds for research.
Joyce will use the occasion to launch a website in memory of her son, which will be called Michael's Choice. Michael had just graduated from university and was planning to start a new life in Australia when he was diagnosed with the incurable tumour.
He made the brave decision to refuse treatment so that he could spend his last few months with his mum at home rather than in hospital.
Joyce, who also lost her disabled daughter Nicola (26) four years ago, has a son Christopher (23) who has cerebral palsy and requires around-the-clock care.
The 58-year-old from Helen's Bay enjoyed precious time with Michael in his last few months and is grateful that she didn't have to watch him suffer. She hopes tonight's fundraiser will be a fitting tribute, and that her new website will also bring comfort to others.
She said: "Grainne (left) has been great to open her shop and support a Wear A Hat Day in memory of Michael. We are urging people to come along this evening and wear a hat and try on some of Grainne's designs and support Brain Tumour Research.
"There will be a raffle and I also hope to talk about Michael and launch my website in his memory.
"Michael's choice was to refuse treatment, which is totally different to most people's journey, and in doing that he gave me the most precious gift in the world because I didn't have to watch him suffer.
"Michael never lost his hair and never lost himself and he was smiling right up to the end, and he made it easier for me because he had the most painless journey.
"He was very, very brave to make that choice and you have no idea the impact that had on me, that I didn't have to watch him suffer.
"The more I learn from other people about what his journey could have been like if he had accepted treatment, the more grateful I am that Michael chose not to have it. The website will be an account of what it was like for Michael so that people know there is a choice, and if people find it helpful then I think Michael would have been absolutely thrilled to think he was able to help people after he had gone.
"If I can do that for him, then what a gift. He gave me a gift and this is my chance to pass it on."
To support Wear A Hat Day in aid of Brain Tumour Research go along to The Vault in The Spires, Belfast, from 6pm until 8pm tonight when you will also be treated to a preview of Grainne's new collection