Stretford Mall’s Shirley arranges Christmas gift-wrapping service in aid of centre helping her cope with cancer

Messenger Newspapers: Shirley Tongue of Stretford Mall with Michael Widdas, manager at the B&M, who are supplying the wrapping paper Shirley Tongue of Stretford Mall with Michael Widdas, manager at the B&M, who are supplying the wrapping paper

A SHOPPING centre worker is arranging a Christmas gift-wrapping service in aid of the specialist cancer support centre which is doing so much to help her get through her own battle with the disease. Shirley Tongue, who is centre administrator for Stretford Mall, was given the shattering news that she is suffering from thyroid cancer just a few months ago. She said she doesn’t know how she would be coping without the ‘fantastic help and support’ provided by the Macmillan Wellbeing Centre in Trafford. That’s why Shirley is determined to raise as much money for the centre from the gift-wrapping session she has planned for Stretford Mall in the run-up to Christmas on December 14, from 12 pm to 5 pm, close to Love Coffee in the centre. Shoppers will be invited to make a small donation in return for having their presents tidily and attractively packaged – complete with a bow - in time for the big day. It won’t be the only festive attraction at Stretford Mall this year. Santa will be at his grotto every Thursday through to Sunday in the run up to Christmas from 10 am to 5 pm and also Monday December 23 from 10 am to 5 pm and Tuesday December 24 from 10 am to 4 pm. There will also be late night shopping every Thursday and Friday until 8 pm in the run up to the big day with free parking all day on a Sunday and after 3 pm every other day. Shirley, who has been in her job at Stretford Mall for the past six years, recalled the shock of being told in the summer that she had thyroid cancer. She said: “I had no symptoms apart from a cough that had gone on for about six months. “I went to see my doctor who arranged for me to have some tests. I had an x-ray which showed a nodule inside the thyroid gland on the left side of my neck. “I then saw a thyroid specialist and had a needle biopsy done, the results of which showed suspected cancer. “Soon afterwards, I had an operation at Trafford General Hospital to remove the left part of the thyroid gland and this revealed that I definitely had cancer.” Shirley added: “It was the worst news but the prognosis is good. Thankfully, the cancer hasn’t spread and I am due to have another operation to remove the second half of the thyroid gland as a precautionary measure. “Just after I was diagnosed, a friend suggested that I should get in touch with Macmillan Cancer Support. It was that way I found out about the Macmillan Wellbeing Centre, which is based not far away from where I live in Stretford, in the grounds of Trafford General Hospital in Davyhulme. “I am currently on an eight-week course there. I go along every Tuesday and am receiving some fantastic support. “The centre has a really dedicated team of staff and volunteers who provide psychological and emotional support for cancer sufferers. “They know what people are going through when they are first diagnosed and can’t quite understand what it will mean to them and their family. “They look at different subjects on each week of the course, such as how you’ll feel after your treatment, what’s best to eat and how people deal with you at work.” Shirley went on: “One of the best things is that you have the chance to talk to other people about what you are going through, sometimes the sort of things that you wouldn’t want to discuss with your family and friends because it might be too upsetting. “I think what they do is just marvelous and without the people at the centre I just don’t know how I would be getting through this. “It was with my own experience in mind that I decided it would be good to raise money for the wellbeing centre by running the gift-wrapping service at Stretford Mall. “I spoke to Stretford Mall Manager, Colin McCrory, and he gave me my full support because he thought it was a great idea. “It will be held on December 14 close to Love Coffee. There will be a team of volunteers from the wellbeing centre actually doing the wrapping. It’s going to be very useful because lots of people, including myself, are pretty bad at wrapping up presents and can easily make a real mess of it. “The B&M store in the mall is very kindly supplying the wrapping paper and the presents will all look professionally done, right down to the bow on top. “We’ll be asking for a small donation to be made to the Macmillan Wellbeing Centre of, say, 50p for a small present and £1 for a large one. “It’s a great way of raising money for a wonderful cause which does so much to help people like myself cope during a very difficult time of their lives.” For more information, go to


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