By Damian Dolan
London’s Irish community and GAA came out in force last weekend to raise more than £25,000 towards a life-prolonging cancer drug for Dulwich Harps ladies’ footballer Siobhan McCann.
The 26-year-old from Castlewellan Co Down postponed her third treatment of the drug called Bevacizumab (Avastin), which is not available on the NHS, to attend last Saturday’s 7s Tournament at Tir Chonaill Park in Greenford, West London.
Siobhan said she’d been “overwhelmed” by the support she is receiving from London’s Irish and the GAA community.
“I just can’t thank everyone enough,” Siobhan told the Irish World at Saturday’s tournament. It really pushes me on to keep fighting.
“I’m feeling good; I’m on a high at the minute because of everyone’s support.”
Siobhan made the trip to London with her parents, Brendan and Geraldine, and
her brother, Ciaran, and sister, Grainne, both of whom represented Siobhan’s hometown club in Down, St John’s Gaelic Athletic Club in the 7s tournament.
Last April Siobhan was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and last weekend was the first time Siobhan had been back in London since June when – to the astonishment of many – she togged out for Dulwich Harps in the junior championship final.
She added: “It’s so good to be back in London and to see all my friends and everyone, and just enjoy being here.”
Since that diagnosis, Siobhan says she’s been through a “rollercoaster” of emotions.
“At the start I was angry. Now, I’ve accepted it and because of everyone’s support, love and prayers, I’m fighting on, and that’s what I have to do keep doing,” she said.
On the pitch, Parnells beat Tir Chonaill Gaels in the ladies 7s final, while St Kiernan’s won the men’s competition, defeating Keenwood Ltd in the final.
Siobhan’s club initially set a fundraising target of £100,000, appealing to the GAA community for help. Since then a GoFundMePage has raised more than £83,000 thus far.
A recent fundraising ladies 7s event staged by her home club, St John’s, raised £51,000 alone. A figure Siobhan admits took her breath away.
“It took my emotions away; I couldn’t believe the outcome. I’m just so happy,” she said.
“It was a horrendous day with the rain and the wind, and I only made it over for a few hours, but every girl had a smile on their face. Every club member helped out and people who I worked with.”
Last Friday the Council of Irish Counties Association (CICA) London raised £5,500 for Siobhan’s fund at a Golf Classic held at Mill Hill Golf Club.
To donate go to https://www.gofundme.com/help-beat-siobhans-toughestopponent