Cancer survivor Lizzie Gilmore pens book to help kids battling disease
A Coleraine woman who battled cancer is hoping her new book will help children across Northern Ireland suffering from the disease.
Lizzie Gilmore (25) was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in July 2018 and successfully fought back, being given the all-clear in February.
Throughout her chemotherapy and radiotherapy Lizzie hated the sight of her PICC line after it was put in place to help carry blood to her heart.
One of her nurses suggested to give the line a name to help get used to it, so Lizzie called it Stanley and thus began the journey to her new book, The Adventures Of Stanley.
As part of her treatment Lizzie needed to take steroid tablets but one night she took her dose too late, leaving her unable to sleep due to the side-effects.
As the hours ticked by she decided to write a story about Stanley, and in just one night the book was finished.
The book, which explains to children in a cartoon format how a PICC line or central line works, has been printed by Cancer Fund For Children with the first 300 copies to be released to Belfast hospitals.
Last night the charity hosted a special event to recognise the journey and achievements of children and young people impacted by cancer at Belfast's New City Life Church, with Lizzie addressing over 100 people as a key speaker.
Looking back at the creation of her book, Lizzie felt she had to do something to help children get over their fear of a PICC or central line.
"I just thought how scary it was for me to go through all that so I wondered how it felt for a small child to do it," she said.
"I thought if I could make a light situation out of it for a child they may be able to understand why it was there and why it needed to be there.
"It tells them the positives of the line and tells them not to touch it because you're not allowed to move it.
"It breaks it down in a way that they would understand.
"Hopefully it's something that can be given to a child going through treatment or brothers or sisters to help them understand what the line is all about."
Reflecting on her battle with cancer, Lizzie explained that she found a lump on her neck in May 2018 but wasn't diagnosed with the disease until July.
Luckily, the cancer was in the early stages and she was able to make a full recovery.
After being told that she needed to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy Lizzie, who works in Ballymena's Lynas Food Outlet, decided to shave her head and donate the hair to help make wigs for other people undergoing the same treatment.
"My diagnosis was a bit of a shock to say the least," she reflected.
"My parents [George and Linda] didn't really show too much fear in front of me.
"This was because they wanted to make it as easy as possible for me, but I know it was quite hard for them.
"They just felt quite helpless because they couldn't do anything."