Bessbrook family support children affected by cancer at Christmas

November 16, 2015

A mother and father who lost their little girl to cancer have raised over £6,000 for Cancer Fund for Children and is calling on the public to support the charity this Christmas.

Carla and Lee Downey from Bessbrook, have opened up about losing their beloved daughter Alannah to a brain tumour in July 2012.

Carla said: “My little girl was only three years-old when she was diagnosed in January 2012 and passed away that July. I will never forget the day she collapsed at home. She was in her uniform all ready to go to school. Her daddy had to resuscitate her while we phoned for an ambulance. They brought her in and found that her little brain was filled with blood. She had a taken a massive stroke and suffered a brain haemorrhage.”

Alannah was diagnosed with a fast growing and severe brain tumour and required a 16 hour surgery to remove it. The tot was in a coma and stayed in an Intensive Care Unit for seven months.

“We spent so much time in hospital, we practically lived there which was hard for my young son and was very expensive,” adds Carla.

“The consultant told us the team had removed 99 per cent of the brain tumour but a scan three months later revealed it had returned. She was then put on chemo to try and shrink the tumour. Not long after this we were advised to take Alannah home and enjoy our last few weeks with her. Those two weeks we enjoyed every single minute with Alannah.  We had no bed times or structure as such we really just wanted to savour every second we had.  She enjoyed seeing all her favourite people and when fit watching her TVs shows and playing with her cousins etc. We really made the most of it.”

Carla explained why she and her family have now thrown themselves into fundraising for the leading local children’s cancer charity:

“While we were in hospital a lady from the charity came and chatted to us and gave us leaflets. We decided we wanted to give something back and help other families who are going through what we went through. We organised a night at the races seven months after Alannah passed away which raised almost £10,000 which we split between 3 children’s charities. More recently we took part in the Bog Run in October with a group of family and friends raising £6,280.34 in total for Cancer Fund for Children.

“We are very aware of the needs of children & families with children diagnosed with this horrible illness and we know this money will go a long way in helping to make some things a wee bit easier for those who unfortunately need it.”

Carla along with her husband Lee, children Keelan (10) and five month old Carleigh Alannah are urging the Northern Ireland public to dig deep this Christmas and help Cancer Fund for Children provide support to other local families affected by cancer.

Cancer Fund for Children’s Director of Services, Liz Osborne said: “At Christmas time negative issues a cancer diagnosis brings can become exaggerated such as loneliness and financial strain. Cancer Fund for Children strives to alleviate this by providing home heating and other financial grants as well as organising various Christmas events to bring families together.”

Individuals, groups of friends, colleagues and schools can help the charity raise funds by donning a cheesy festive Jumper and take part in this year’s All Wrapped Up Campaign. For more information or to sign up log onto or call 028 9080 5599.