How we'll remember tragic mum every day of year
The death of her friend from cancer made Glengormley woman Lorraine Collins enlist a group of superfit friends to pose for the Pink and Brawn fundraising calendar
A band of gym chums have chosen October – breast cancer awareness month – to launch their 2014 Pink and Brawn calendar to raise vital funds for two special local charities.
The models are all super-fit friends who've flexed their muscles to raise cash for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland and Pretty n Pink Breast Cancer Charity.
The team want to raise awareness of all kinds of cancer – not just breast cancer – and to remind everyone of the importance of early diagnosis. Each of the 12 months on the calendar is dedicated to a different cancer or health message.
The October page is, naturally, for breast cancer, but April focuses on testicular cancer, July on men's breast cancer and November on prostate cancer.
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.
Lorraine says: "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 of the disease, Tracey vowed to fight – and she fought hard.
"Always super organised, Tracey hoped for the best but liked to prepare for the worst, just in case. She attended the family support groups which are run by Cancer Focus with her son Kristian, who was only seven at the time. Tracey hoped this might help him understand what the cancer meant and prepare him for whatever the future might hold."
She adds: "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."
In tribute to her friend, Lorraine asked her companions at 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 says.
The Pink and Brawn team are also holding a coffee morning at the DW gym in Newtownabbey on Saturday to boost funds, and team member Dale Hooks is running the Dublin Marathon for the charities.
Rachel Smith, from Cancer Focus, says: "We are delighted that all these sporty people have joined forces to raise money for us. Losing a family member is a devastating time for children and we aim to help them through that emotional journey. The money raised will help us support even more children all over Northern Ireland. Thank you to everyone involved and to everyone who buys the calendar."
Noleen Adair, from Pretty n Pink, says: "We feel very honoured to be supported by the team, and believe that it is a wonderful way to remember Tracey, and also Margaret McTeggart and Moira McKinlay. We will be using funds from calendar sales to help provide practical support to breast cancer patients and their families across Northern Ireland.
"The calendar has turned out really well and we would encourage as many people as possible to buy one and help support these two local charities, but to also take note of the poignant messages behind the calendar and of the importance of awareness and early diagnosis."
Tracey's dad, Leslie Brown, says: "We would like to thank Lorraine and the team for all the work they have put in to get this wonderful calendar done 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.
"I could not thank Rachel and the Cancer Focus group enough for all the support we received when we were going through this difficult time."
Where you can get a copy
You can buy your calendar for a minimum donation of £5 from the Cancer Focus Northern Ireland service centre at 44 Eglantine Avenue, Belfast, tel: 028 9066 3281 or visit one of 10 Cancer Focus shops across Northern Ireland.
They are also available at the Pretty n Pink office at 20 Adelaide Street, Belfast, tel: 028 9051 7043, the charity's shop at Park Centre, Belfast, Mace at Park Centre Belfast, Mace at Queen's University or the Busy Bee Hospital Shop at the Royal Victoria Hospital.