Belfast Telegraph

Family of Belfast woman Eimear Gooderham hope her cancer battle will inspire others

Eimear Gooderham (Nee Smyth) in hospital. Taken with permission from social media
Eimear Gooderham (Nee Smyth) in hospital. Taken with permission from social media

The heartbroken father of a Belfast woman who passed away after a brave battle with cancer has said he hopes his daughter’s fight will inspire others to become stem cell donors.

Eimear Gooderham (25) died in hospital on Thursday after suffering from multiple organ failure, just a week after fulfilling her “last wish” of marrying her fiancé Phillip.

Her father Sean told The Irish News she “never felt sorry for herself” throughout her illness and she “showed me how to die with dignity”.

The west Belfast make-up artist was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, in 2016 aged just 22 and underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy.

Eimear Gooderham (Nee Smyth). Taken with permission from Social Media
Eimear Gooderham (Nee Smyth). Taken with permission from Social Media

She managed to beat the disease and was given the all-clear in spring 2017, however the cancer returned just a few weeks later.

Eimear underwent an autologous stem cell transplant, which involved being treated with her own stem cells and high dose chemotherapy. Following a lengthy hospital stay, she was able to return home with the disease in remission.

Last year, however, the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma returned again and doctors said she required another stem cell transplant, but from an anonymous donor. This prompted Sean to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the stem cell register and a match was found.

Eimear underwent surgery last year, however she suffered complications and died of organ failure on Thursday.

She was due to get married to her fiancé Phillip in October, however when she was told of her worsening condition her family organised a wedding in hospital last Thursday.

“She used her mummy’s wedding ring and Philip used my wedding ring and it was just so special,” Sean said.

“The next day we had a bit of a celebration in the hospital for them and even the next day we had a bit of a wedding cake, so she had a three-day wedding.”

Sean said that, when doctors told him his daughter had multiple organ failure, she asked him ‘am I going to die’.

“She said it’s unfair daddy, but she had no self pity and said ‘we have things to do’," he said.

Eimear Gooderham (Nee Smyth) and her husband Phillip's wedding bands. Taken with permission from social media
Eimear Gooderham (Nee Smyth) and her husband Phillip's wedding bands. Taken with permission from social media

“We intend to give her the biggest send-off, a celebration of her life. She had said she doesn’t want anyone in black, everyone should come in colour.

“She will be buried in her wedding dress. I may not have got to walk her down the aisle, but I will carry her up the aisle in her wedding dress.”

Sean said he hopes others would be inspired by his daughter’s fight and become organ donors.

“It would be a lovely honour for people to join the stem cell register, to do it in Eimear’s name. It would mean the world to us if people join.”

Eimear’s funeral service will be held at St Teresa’s Church on the Glen Road an noon on Saturday, followed by burial at Milltown Cemetary.

People aged 30-35 can register to become stem cell donors via DKMS and those aged 16-30 can register via Anthony Nolan.

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