Belfast Telegraph

Pumped up pals put their backs into overcoming loss

By Dave Whelan

A group of iron-pumping chums in north Belfast are stepping away from the treadmill to raise funds for two special local charities.

Members of the DW Gym in Newtownabbey have made a calendar to raise awareness of all kinds of cancer and remind people of the importance of early diagnosis. The super-fit friends have chosen October – breast cancer awareness month – to launch their '2014 Pink and Brawn' calendar but will dedicate each of the 12 months to a different cancer or health message.

The driving force behind Pink and Brawn is Glengormley woman Lorraine Collins, a nurse who tragically lost her friend Tracey Brown Dube, from Ballysillan, to breast cancer on Christmas Eve last year at the young age of 38.

In tribute to the mum of one, Lorraine asked her local gym, DW Sport Fitness Club, to help with a fundraiser.

"Many of us have been affected by various types of cancer, so we decided that the calendar should reflect this too. Six of the people in our group have lost people close to them recently so taking part in the calendar was close to our hearts," Lorraine said.

"Tracey was the most beautiful, caring, selfless and inspirational person and everyone who knew her was devastated when she died. When she was diagnosed with a recurrence, Tracey vowed to fight - and she fought hard."

Lorraine explained that Tracey had worked hard to prepare her seven-year-old son Kristian for whatever the future might hold and had attended family support groups run by Cancer Focus.

"I know that Rachel Smith, who looks after the Cancer Focus service, was a fantastic support during a dreadfully difficult time. Kristian went along to meetings and joined the CLIMB group (children's lives include moments of bravery), where he met other children in a similar situation and got incredible support. He felt able to open up to Rachel too.

"I decided I wanted to raise funds for this service because the support they gave Tracey, Kristian and her family before and after her death was remarkable.

"I also wanted to raise money for local breast cancer charity Pretty n Pink, where Tracey made supportive friends. Noleen Adair, who runs the charity, inspires me as she works tirelessly to help others while battling with her own health problems. Noleen and Pretty n Pink, along with Cancer Focus, are strong advocates for breast cancer awareness, especially in young women."

Tracey's dad, Leslie Brown, thanked Lorraine and the team for their work for two "special local charities and for remembering our beautiful daughter Tracey.

"When Tracey was going through these difficult times, she found Rachel and the Cancer Focus group a great help for her and Kristian, and they got so much from their meetings there."

The Pink and Brawn team are holding a coffee morning at DW gym Newtownabbey on October 19 and team member Dale Hooks is running the Dublin Marathon for the charities.

Calendars for a minimum donation of £5 from the Cancer Focus Northern Ireland service centre at 44 Eglantine Avenue, Belfast (028 9066 3281), or one of ten Cancer Focus shops across Northern Ireland. They are also available at the Pretty n Pink office at 20 Adelaide Street, Belfast (028 9051 7043), or the Busy Bee Hospital Shop at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

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