There's nothing more that can be done for me, says brave Belfast cancer mum Aundrea Bannatyne
A brave mother from Dundonald who has fearlessly battled her cancer diagnosis with the help of thousands of fundraisers has made the heartbreaking announcement that her condition is incurable.
Aundrea Bannatyne (42), who worked as a travel agent for Thomas Cook, was told she had terminal pancreatic cancer in July last year.
She vowed to fight on for her sons James (10) - who had survived a treatment for brain cancer himself, aged two - and Jack (14).
With the backing of thousands of friends and fundraisers, dubbed Aundrea's army, she began searching for treatment outside Northern Ireland, finding hope with a £200,000 treatment in a German clinic.
Despite her courageous fight, last Wednesday she received test results with the devastating news that her condition would not improve.
On Saturday, she posted a statement on her fundraising Facebook page, thanking supporters for their help.
"I've had a few days to try and process Wednesday's news. The results were bad," she said.
"The cancer on my pancreas has grown, the cancer on my liver has grown and it has now spread to my lungs. There is nothing more that can be done for me. As a family we are totally devastated. Now it's about me and my boys. Thank you all for your continued support and kindness. Much love, Aundrea."
Showing the fighting spirit she has become known and loved for, she added the hashtags to her message, "#dontstopbelieving #kickcancersbutt #keepthefaith #strength #positivethoughts".
This week, Ms Bannatyne has taken a few days away to be with her family, however, despite the devastating test results she is still attending a fundraising event planned for Saturday night in Belfast to thank her devoted army of supporters.
In keeping with her positive spirit over the last year, the event is to feature an Abba tribute band and disco.
One fundraiser who helps to monitor the Aundrea's Army Facebook page told the Belfast Telegraph: "It's so Aundrea, she wants to have as many of her friends there as possible to celebrate her life with them all together," he said.
"After that she won't be seeing many people. The support she's had has kept her going, and it has been from all over the world in Australia and America."
In an interview last year, Ms Bannatyne opened up about getting her diagnosis. "I was told my diagnosis was terminal, I was told I had six to twelve months to live and that I should go home and make memories with my boys," she said. "I was in shock, I didn't expect it for a minute. I expected (to hear) it's cancer, we can deal with that with chemotherapy, not for one minute did I ever imagine they were going to tell me the word terminal."
She said then that she was determined to try all treatments: "I'm only 42, I have two young boys that I have to raise, I have to take absolutely every opportunity because I need to fight to live and I'm determined to fight so I won't accept that diagnosis of terminal at all."
More than 1,200 people commented on Aundrea's announcment on social media, passing on their supportive messages. Among the many messages, Joannie Hutton wrote: "Treasure your family, make more memories and don't stop believing. You are an amazing lady and it is a pleasure for all of us to support you. God bless you and your family."
Eleanor Murray said: "You are and always will be an inspiration to so many. You are and always will be the strong, beautiful and proud mother of your boys."