Katy McRae was a tireless campaigner for cancer survivors

Katy McRae was a tireless campaigner for cancer survivors

It is with sadness that we note the death of Katy McRae (nee O’Reilly) of Kilcash, Ballypatrick,  in Frederick, Maryland, USA, on January 15, 2018.

Katy died from metastatic breast cancer.  She had worked for many years as a voluntary co-ordinator for the charity Metavivor, an internet forum and fundraising organisation representing the metastatic breast cancer community.  As Katy often said, “breast cancer does not end after the last treatment, and no matter how hard we try, many of us will hear from our oncologists those dreaded words ‘it has returned’ ".  In other words, while we should never underestimate the gravity of a diagnosis of breast cancer, in itself, we should also not marginalise the implications of metastatic breast cancer and there should be a continued focus on the risk and dangers of metastasis, following upon an initial diagnosis of breast cancer.

Katy spoke spoke about the subject at many public meetings and conferences in different parts of the United States over the years and corresponded with national newspapers, including the Washington Post, as well as featuring, herself, on public billboards, all in an effort to raise public awareness on behalf of the metastatic breast cancer community.  By means of measures small and large, Katy raised very significant funds for Metavivor before she died, and her valiant efforts in this regard will remain as part of her legacy.

Katy was a radiographer.  After taking time out to raise her four children, in Germany, where her husband, Steve, was based for work, Katy and her family returned to the United States about ten years ago.  She worked in the US as a document control specialist and volunteered in many fields, including as an adult literacy teacher.

Even though she was by then becoming increasingly unwell, Katy spoke movingly at the memorial service for her brother Aidan, just some months ago, in Kilcash.  Aidan was a medical pathologist and died on April 15, 2017.  Katy travelled home to Ballypatrick frequently and will be remembered locally with much love and affection.  She had planned to return for a visit in June but the progression of her illness made this, or any further visit, impossible.  She nevertheless continued to appear indomitable and stoical and, to the very end, was speaking of possible new treatment regimes and trial drug tests, that she might qualify for.

Katy’s eldest son, Donal, had planned to marry his sweetheart Hayley in Virginia in October, 2018.  Katy had been excited about the wedding plans and was looking forward to a large family gathering in the US in the fall.  Sadly, circumstances dictated otherwise and when it became apparent that Katy would not surmount this last bout of her illness, Donal and Hayley were married in a small chapel in the hospice where Katy was being cared for, just a few days before she died.

A memorial service was held for Katy in Maryland on January 21, 2018.  Katy’s remains will be interred in Kilcash, accompanied by a memorial service, at a later date.

Katy is survived by her husband Steve, daughter Emily and sons Donal, Ian and Conor.  She is survived also by her siblings Breda, Tony, Ebbie, Anne, Bill, Jack, Bunny and Terry.

May she rest in peace.