Belfast Telegraph

I'll meet bigots who hurled abuse at me over hair loss, says gran battling cancer

By Leona O'Neill

A Londonderry grandmother who faced a torrent of abuse about her appearance and religion outside her home said she is willing to meet the youths who taunted her to "educate them on what it's like to live with cancer".

Norma, who is battling incurable multiple myeloma and awaiting a stem cell transplant, said the youths called her "baldy" and "a hun".

It happened during her birthday on Sunday after she had mustered up the courage to go out for the first time without her head scarf.

This was three weeks after her hair fell out due to chemotherapy.

She said she broke down in tears as the youths shouted cruel abuse and hasn't slept since.

But Norma, who did not want to reveal her surname, added she has been overwhelmed by the support she received after her story appeared in the Belfast Telegraph. She has received flowers and hundreds of emails and messages from strangers as she recovers from her ordeal.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, the SDLP's John Boyle, also paid Norma a visit, bringing her a birthday card and gift. He also said he would "walk with her to the shop any day of the week".

Norma said: "I was very upset yesterday but I'm happier today. I have been getting a lot of messages of support from complete strangers on social media. I have had flowers delivered to me and everyone saying how they admire my courage and to keep going, that they think I'm beautiful.

"That's a big boost for my confidence. It's overwhelming, people who I have never met are encouraging me to go out without my scarf. I want to meet with the young people who shouted abuse at me. I don't know if it will happen but I will meet them so that they can apologise to me.

"I think that may make them see sense. I would ask them why they did it."

Mr Boyle said he recalls his mother's trauma of losing her hair as a cancer patient.

"It feeds into that sense of who she was as a woman," he said.

"We are all simple, ordinary human beings who just want to get on with our lives. That's what Norma wants to do. As mayor of this city I want to encourage Norma to continue to do that and if it requires, I will walk to the shop with her to make sure she does get to do that."

Belfast Telegraph

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