Ray of Hope breaks through £100K target

RESEARCH into breast cancer and awareness of the disease has been given a major boost thanks to EADT readers who have raised an amazing £100,000.A year to the day since we launched our Ray of Hope appeal to help fund the work at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, the target has been met.

RESEARCH into breast cancer and awareness of the disease has been given a major boost thanks to EADT readers who have raised an amazing £100,000.

A year to the day since we launched our Ray of Hope appeal to help fund the work at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, the target has been met.

Last night, Breakthrough thanked the generosity of readers, who have sent in cheques and held fundraising events to bring in the cash.

Many were inspired by the story of Rhona Damant, who has courageously told of her experiences of terminal cancer through her weekly diary.


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And a special message of congratulations was sent to the mother-of-two, from Great Waldingfield, near Sudbury, from Irish pop star Ronan Keating.

Rhona, 45, was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago and now has secondary, inoperable tumours in her lungs, liver, brain and spine.

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Her diary entries, charting her life with cancer, the highs and lows, the reality of treatment and the affect the illness has had on her family and friends, was compiled into a book.

The launch of Sit Down and Stop Laughing kick-started the campaign on April 23, last year, with its sales boosting the appeal by around £15,000.

And Ray of Hope reached its staggering target on the same day a year later when runners for Suffolk Breakthrough, including Nigel Pringle who single-handedly raised an incredible £13,500, passed through the finishing line of the London Marathon.

Rhona said last night: “I can't believe EADT readers have done it in a year. It was a huge amount and it is an amazing thing to do.

“Huge recognition should go to East Anglia as it is not often that this sort of money is made in this short space of time. It is purely down to local people that have supported it and given their time and effort.

“Thanks have to go to those that have done whatever they have done - run marathons, given birthday money, anniversary money - it is purely down to them and no-one else.

“When cancer hits a life people want to do something about it and when the opportunity has come up they have done it. Regardless of how big or small the money is, it has all helped build £100,000.”

But Rhona was reluctant to take any credit for Ray of Hope reaching its target. She said she thought people had given their time and money after being touched by cancer in some way and wanting to do something positive.

She said: “The money will not make any difference to me or anyone else in this situation but hopefully it will help people in the future.

“Hopefully the research will come and things will happen, maybe not many years away. A bigger cure and drugs will be found that will help prolong the lives of women with breast cancer so they do not leave their families so young; it is such a cruel thing to happen.

“Hopefully when my kids are a bit older and they have kids of their own, hopefully that won't be an issue, especially if we keep fundraising, maybe that research and that cure will be there.”

Ronan Keating, who lost his own mother to breast cancer, agreed to write the foreword to Rhona's book after meeting her and her family at one of his concerts.

He said: “It doesn't surprise me that Rhona has achieved so much. She is such a big person and her energy and fight inspires us all.”

Jeremy Hughes, the charity's chief executive, said: “This is tremendous news! The East Anglian Daily Times and all of its readers have outdone themselves and have really shown what a community can achieve when everyone pulls together.

“£100,000 was a bold target but throughout the last 12 months we have read some amazing stories, which have been inspirational and at times very entertaining.

“Everyone at Breakthrough would like to say a big thank you to all of those involved in helping the EADT to reach its target.

“A special thank you goes to Rhona Damant, who was the inspiration behind the appeal and has played a key role in making this campaign a true success.

“The money raised will make a significant impact on the work that takes place at the Breakthrough Toby Robins Research Centre, contributing to the funds needed to support one of the centre's nine teams for a whole year.”

EADT editor Terry Hunt said: “We have been overwhelmed by the response of our readers and the support they have given to Ray of Hope.

“Hundreds of women in Suffolk and Essex are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. This £100,000 will help Breakthrough carry out the research that gives hope for the future. It will also help raise awareness, which can be lifesaving.

“Our thanks go to the Breakthrough team for their work, to our readers, and of course to Rhona, whose diaries of her emotional journey with cancer has informed and motivated so many.”

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