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Altnagelvin decision sparks joy

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Altnagelvin Hospital

Altnagelvin Hospital

MARGARET MCLAUGHLIN

Altnagelvin Hospital

Cheers and tears flowed at the news that the Health Minister has given the go-ahead for a £56m radiotherapy unit to be built at Altnagelvin Hospital.

Edwin Poots made the announcement in the Assembly, but after his initial confirmation that the centre would be built and opened by 2016, the remainder of his words went largely unheard in the Brandywell area of Derry, where the Pink Ladies support group had gathered to hear the news as it was broadcast.

As one they rose to their feet with a tumultuous cheer, amid hugs and tears, before bursting into a chorus of ‘For He's A Jolly Good Fellow’.

Among those listening was Michelle McLaren, who was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago aged just 25, and had to endure a three-hour journey every day to Belfast for treatment.

“This is the most wonderful day and will mean everything for anyone from Derry, Donegal and Tyrone who will be diagnosed with cancer,” she said.

Angela McGowan, who received treatment in Belfast seven years ago, said the campaign was for future generations.

She added: “Because we know what the journey does to you, how it drains almost everything out of you, we knew we could not stop fighting.”

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