Belfast Telegraph

McCandless family ready to muck in for tribute to tragic mum Ann

By Christopher Leebody

A Templepatrick family are planning to get muddy in memory of their "inspirational" mother and grandmother who died from cancer aged 60.

Ann McCandless was diagnosed with the disease in September 2017, following routine treatment for what appeared to be arthritis in her shoulder.

Her daughter Sarah (36) described the shock the family experienced following the cancer diagnosis.

"The only symptom that mum had was a little shortness of breath once when she was mopping the floors," she said.

"She went to the hospital for tests and a week later we were called back to be given this shocking diagnosis. We were dumbfounded."

Mother to Sarah and twin boys John and David (32), Ann was the "heartbeat of the family", and ran an electrical wholesale business for many years together with her husband John.

Sarah, who works for Cancer Research UK, engaging with patients, has first-hand experience of the ordeal those suffering from cancer go through.

Ann McCandless
Ann McCandless

This did not make watching her mother's fight any less painful, however.

"Chemo was tough. To see the person who means the most to you in the whole world go through the excruciating side-effects is hard.

"Not being able to make it all stop and take it all away was just agony."

The family also faced the decision to bring forward Sarah's planned wedding to Matthew Callaghan in March 2018, to ensure Ann could enjoy the big day to the full.

"We had 11 weeks to get everything sorted and in true Mum fashion she took the reins.

"The run-up to the wedding was wonderful, Mum was feeling well, she had more energy and she was feeling more positive about the future.

"On her final chemo day, she got her bloods taken, went to buy her mother-of-the-bride outfit, and then back to the cancer centre for her treatment.

"The nurses were in shock, but she absolutely loved showing her outfit off to all the patients and staff."

Sarah added: "We had our lovely wedding - it was the best day of our lives. Mum was in brilliant form, looked fantastic and no-one could quite believe she was ill.

"She outdid us all and was the last one standing at 4am."

Unfortunately for the family there was tragic news to come, as scans revealed Ann's cancer had spread to her brain shortly before her 60th birthday in July.

Ann passed away peacefully in hospital on September 1, 2018, surrounded by her family.

Now wanting to honour her memory, while raising funds and awareness for Cancer Research UK, Sarah and her nephews Frankie (7) and David (9) are planning to take part in 'Pretty Muddy' in Ormeau Park in September, an obstacle course through nets and mud pits.

"She adored her grandchildren, they were her everything," said Sarah.

"I'm glad they are old enough to always remember their Granny Annie and all the wonderful times they spent with her.

"We are so glad to be doing Pretty Muddy in her memory," she added.

Pretty Muddy is part of Cancer Research UK's Race for Life in partnership with Tesco, where people can enjoy "fun, thrills and spills" for the charity.

Visit raceforlife.org for details.

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