Siobhan loses battle for life

Siobhan loses battle for life

8 May 2019

A CLANVARAGHAN woman whose brave battle against cancer touched the hearts of thousands of people will be laid to rest tomorrow.

Siobhan McCann died at her home on Monday evening, just over a year after she was diagnosed with the disease.

Twenty six year-old Siobhan has been described as an “unique and loved friend” and an “inspirational young woman”.

Siobhan played Gaelic football for St John’s GAC, Drumnaquoile, and Loughinisland GAC.

She was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the age of 25 on April 18 last year.

Surgery to remove a tumour was ruled out two months later after it was discovered the cancer had spread.

Siobhan and close friends started a fundraising campaign to self-fund a drug called Bevacizumab (Alvastin) which would prolong her life in the hope that chemotherapy would shrink the tumour.

The Go Fund Me campaign, called Help Siobhan’s Toughest Opponent, initially had a target of £100,000.

More than £200,000 was raised within weeks by her home club, the wider GAA community and by her team-mates at Dulwich GAC in London where she lived before her illness.

Siobhan had enjoyed a full life before her illness forced her to return home.

Siobhan’s friend and St John’s PRO, Cormac McMullan, one of the lead fundraisers, said yesterday that her parents, Brendan and Geraldine, were grateful for the extra time they had with Siobhan.

“Siobhan’s parents were very happy with the fundraising and all the support that they 

received so she could get the extra treatment. They know without it she would have been gone before this.”

In March, Siobhan said that her recent scan results “had been hard to take in and write about”, some tumours had 

increased and her body was starting to reject chemotherapy.

Prayers were said at St Mary of The Angels Church, Clanvaraghan, last week as it became clear that Siobhan’s condition had worsened.

A post on her campaign Facebook page asked “God for a miracle” and said: “We have got behind every conceivable fundraising effort imaginable and we cannot thank you all enough for this. Sadly however, it seems it’s going to take a lot more than money to save our friend Siobhan.”

The young woman’s death was announced on her page on Monday and has since received hundreds of messages of condolence.

St John’s GAC posted a tribute to Siobhan a few hours later.

It said: “As a club we acknowledge that we have lost a special member, an incredible player and a unique and loved friend. 

“As a club we pulled together with others in our Gaelic Family in an outpouring of love and hope to help her fight her illness. 

“As a club we will come together again to grieve and share our precious happy memories of times with Siobhan. Those memories will live long in the fabric of St. John’s as will the memory of our beloved Siobhan.”

St John’s, along with Castlewellan GAC, hosted a ladies sevens football tournament, coffee morning and evening event last October which attracted teams from all over the island and from England.

It helped raise £110,000 to fund Siobhan’s treatments and other local groups and individuals continued to raise money over the last few months.

South Down MP Chris Hazzard paid his condolences to Siobhan’s family and wrote: “Very sad to hear of the passing of Siobhan McCann this evening — deepest sympathy to the McCann family and everyone at St John’s GAC who will be devastated at this heartbreaking news.”

Other local GAC clubs, including Clonduff Dundrum, Kilcoo, Castlewellan, and Ballykinlar, posted messages of condolence.

Dulwich Harps GAA wrote: “It is with a heavy heart that we have learned of the passing of our ladies player Siobhan McCann. Siobhan has left a lasting impression on us with her time here in London. We are honoured to call her a club mate, team mate and a close friend.”

Ballymartin GAC wrote: “It was truly powerful to see everyone in Down and beyond coming together for such an inspirational young woman. Siobhan’s friends and family worked tirelessly, through all the fundraisers, donations and events, and we are proud to have played our small part.”

Siobhan’s funeral service will be held tomorrow at St Mary of The Angels Church, Clanvaraghan, at 2pm. Requiem Mass will be followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.

She is survived by her parents, Brendan and Geraldine, sister Grainne, brother Ciaran, brother-in-law Mark, her grandmother Annie Rice and extended family.

St John’s GAC will be hosting mourners after the service.