Joan Ferry is a local woman who is a mother to one son, three stepchildren and soon to be grandmother of four.  Joan is married to Frank and this weekend she will celebrate her 50th birthday.  However this milestone is of particular significance and joy to Joan given the journey she has been on throughout her late forties during which she has fought 3 forms of cancer in as many years - Breast, Bowel and Liver.  

To fight the disease, Joan has undergone 4 major surgeries, 14 cycles of Chemotherapy, 40 sessions of Radiotherapy and has now thankfully been given the all clear on her most recent two scans.    

To show her gratitude for reaching this special date, Joan quietly set up a crowd-funding page and requested close friends and family to donate to Altnagelvin’s Sperrin Unit and Cancer Research UK in lieu of gifts, however with overwhelming response she has decided to make her 50th birthday a public affair and will be using her Birthday Party to fundraise for the same charities which are so close to her heart.   Of the event, which is dedicated to ‘Food, Fun and Fighting Cancer’ Joan says ‘ I am just so happy to be here, after being knocked down so many times I am still here and I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than helping the fight against this terrible disease’. 


Joan’s 50th Birthday Celebrations are this Saturday 22nd April, in Da Vinci’s Derry from 8pm.  Tickets are available at the door priced at £10.

How would you describe yourself?

I think I am someone who is positive, outgoing and definitely always up for a laugh!

Do you have a nickname?

Just wee Joan

You are about to turn 50! How do you feel ahead of that?

Well I just hope it’s better than my forties, and sure they say that the fifties are the new thirties so I’ll be testing that out!

Looking back over those 50 years, what’s your favourite funny story about yourself?

Thankfully, there are so many!  But if I had to pick a favourite it would be the time my husband and I were travelling to New York.  The Air Steward was making his way around the flight asking passengers to complete the relevant Visa form, a form if you had a visa and a different one if you didn’t have a visa.  When he eventually reached me and my husband, my husband informed him we have Visas, which of course I disagreed with.  There was a bit of going back and forward between me and Frank around this Visa that I had got myself,  so to prove my point I said I would show him because it was in my bag.  Upon me presenting my Visa bank card to the Air Steward, the plane erupted!

 What’s your favourite way to relax?

Spending time with my husband and family recharges me, or going out for dinner with them or friends.

Tell us something about yourself that people don’t know?

I don’t think there is a single thing, I am an open book and what you see is what you get.

What makes you laugh?

My husband without a doubt.  He makes me laugh every day and he always puts a smile on my face.  Even through my diagnosis and treatment, he always kept me going with his sense of humour.

What is the best compliment you have ever received?

The best compliment I have ever received about myself is that I am an inspiration.  It is such a big compliment and I don’t see it about myself but it humbles me to hear it.

Who would you most like to meet?

The Pope.  He drove past me in Rome but that was as far as I got! Maybe another time.

What makes you happy?

My husband and family, and my lovely grandchildren Amy-Kate and Liam.  I have two more on the way and one will be born on my 50th birthday- this Sunday which is very special.

What makes you angry?

I don’t like when people tell lies.

High point of your life to date?

 For me, it is surviving cancer three times in three years.  And after being constantly knocked down by more bad news at my other scans, it was such a relief to get the all clear at two most recent ones.

What has been your low point?

My mother is 89 and has Alzheimer’s, I found it difficult to not have my mother to talk to about my illness.  It was really sad that she was there, and could see me but that she didn’t know what was happening to me.  I used to have lovely curly hair before I lost it during treatment, and when I started wearing short wigs she would tell me she didn’t like how I had my hair cut and that she liked it better long, all unaware of what was happening to me.  It was very sad time and it made a difficult time harder.

How would you like people to remember you?

I would like people to remember me for living life to the full and enjoying every day.   My diagnosis was life changing for me and it turned my world upside down in many ways, changing my direction – for example I went from working full time to volunteering so I would like to be remembered for helping people hopefully.  I have met so many new friends affected by cancer in their lives too, they have become friends for life and I hope they remember me for helping them as much as their support has helped me, meeting them through groups or events facilitated by Macmillan, Pink Ladies and particularly Derry Well Woman.

What are your treasured possessions?

I am not materialistic at all, and all that I treasure is my health and the health of those around me.  Your health is your wealth and that’s all that matters.

What’s been your motto been throughout your fight?

I was just thankful for every day that I continued to be here, so for me it was ‘Thank God, every day I rise’.  My faith and prayer got me through my battles with cancer and I have incredibly strong faith.


What advice do you have for anyone in the same position fighting illness?

There is always hope, and we are in this together and someday we will find a cure for this horrible disease which has affected to many families.  Make yourself aware of the support around you, I found group support such a help and it really helped me cope to talk to people who were or had been in the same position as me.  I took great support from counselling which was made available to me for free also and would recommend it.