My son beat cancer, now I'll do same, vows defiant Aundrea Bannatyne
A devoted mother diagnosed with a rare cancer has vowed to fight it for the sake of her two sons.
Doctors dropped the bombshell two weeks ago that Aundrea Bannatyne (42) had inoperable pancreatic cancer, and has up to a year to live.
Aundrea, a manager for Thomas Cook who lives in east Belfast, had been suffering an excruciating burning pain in the left side of her back and was diagnosed with kidney stones.
But she said she knew that there was something "more sinister", and has now vowed to beat it for the sake of her sons Jack (14) and James (10).
"It was the shock of my life when they first told me, I couldn't believe it," she said.
"I refuse to accept the diagnosis, I honestly believe I will beat it - I will fight this all the way - I need to be here for my sons.
"I am a positive person, so I can't accept there is nothing that can be done when I know that there is.
"I know it will be hard, but I won't give up.
"I am a mother and I need to look after my sons, who are the love of my life, they are my world."
It's the second cancer diagnosis to strike the family.
James was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma brain tumour at the age of two.
Eight years on he is nearly in remission and remains an inspiration to his mother as she now battles the disease.
"When James was ill I used to plead and beg that I could swap places, I'd have done anything I could to take the cancer for him," she said.
"Now that I have it, I still feel the same, I would willingly go through all this if it meant cancer would never touch my sons again."
Pancreatic cancer usually affects men over the aged of 65 who have been heavy smokers and drinkers, making Aundrea's diagnosis rare.
It is also a difficult cancer to treat, due to a lack of research and funding.
A non-smoker and keen walker who keeps in shape, Aundrea said she hopes to raise awareness by highlighting symptoms which include darkened urine, pale coloured stools, bloating, jaundice and severe back pain.
Aundrea, who is currently having to take 36 painkillers a day, is hoping to seek medical treatment in either Manchester or Germany.
Her friends have set up #Aundrea'sArmy to raise £100,000 to help.
So far nearly £9,000 has been raised on gofundmepage, with events planned to boost funds further. Aundrea and her family said they are grateful for everyone's support.
To donate, see https://www.gofundme.com/2gtranmq.