A DALMUIR woman living with cancer has described feeling “overwhelmed” after a surprise fundraising event was held in aid of her.

Bernadette Donnelly, known as Bernie, was diagnosed with breast cancer in March this year after going for her first mammogram shortly after her 50th birthday.

On Tuesday, June 11, Bernie had a mastectomy with reconstruction, which she has described as “going well with no real major issues”.

Her sister, Julie McCann, who is a fitness instructor, secretly arranged a yoga class after deciding that she wanted to raise money for charities that help those diagnosed with breast cancer.

Around 60 men and women turned up for the two-hour event held in the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel on June 15, and more than £1,200 was raised on the day.

The hotel on Beardmore Street kindly donated the use of a conference room and provided a free buffet.

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Julie said: “When the family found out about the cancer, we were absolutely devastated. I wanted to do something to let Bernie know that we were all there for her and to show her support.

“She has a heart of gold. I didn’t know what the right thing to do was, but raising money means we are helping others as well. The class was free and I only asked for a donation. The amount raised was brilliant.”

Bernie added: “I was invited along for what I thought was a lunch with my nephew. I was taken into the conference room where all these wonderful people had gathered.

“To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. I am amazed and humbled by all the love and support.”

A further £300 was raised by Bernie’s friend Sharon, and her daughter Laura, who ran Cancer Research’s Race for Life in her name.

Bernie and Julie donated £500 to Breast Cancer Care, and £100 to Knitted Knockers.

Bernie said: “Breast Cancer Care are a charity who have a forum for people affected by breast cancer. They have breast cancer nurses on the phones for you to talk to, the NHS nurses are stretched to the limit, so these volunteers are a lifeline. You can also read about or chat to women in the same situation as yourself.

“Knitted Knockers knit prosthetic boobs for women who have had a mastectomy and want something light to wear instead of silicone prosthetics. They send you a knitted knocker in a colour of your choice, they even do ones for swimming costumes. They all come free of charge with lovely notes of support all done by volunteer knitters.”

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The rest of the money was donated to charities picked by the breast care professionals who have dealt with Bernie, from oncologists to plastic surgeons, to physiotherapists and psychologists.

Bernie added: “The NHS has provided all of this to get me through one of the toughest times in my life. You only truly appreciate the NHS when you need it most.

“It should be treasured and funded properly. The majority of us couldn’t afford this treatment privately.

“Although I didn’t get the all clear I was hoping for, I’m here and I’m ready to get through this.

“To everyone who has sent me messages of love and support I’d like to thank you so much. It’s hard to know what to say, but say something.”