Breakthrough Cancer Research is a charity with strong ties to West Cork. But its work, the research it funds, and the treatments it helps to discover, are in jeopardy without continuing support from the public. That’s why it wants us all to get on board with its new fundraising initiative
BY EMMA CONNOLLY
A WEST Cork-based woman who had to abandon her walk from Drimoleague to Dublin in aid of a cancer charity because of Covid-19, is now urging people to get on board with a new challenge to help it raise vital funds.
Lucy Fahy, who is living with ovarian cancer, set off on her trip to raise money for Breakthrough Cancer Research (BCR) on March 14th, the same day the school closures were announced in response to the global pandemic.
With her tent on her back, and her two dogs Wally and Pirate for company, she walked for 11 days, getting as far as Castlewhite in Tipperary before logistically the trip got too difficult.
Having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008, Lucy is in the high risk category for Covid-19 and is now back home and cocooning. But she’s undeterred in her bid to support Breakthrough Cancer Research (BCR) and wants everyone to get on board with a novel initiative called ‘The Race that Nearly Wasn’t.’
To take part, all you have to do is to run, jog or walk 2k a day for 20 days, the equivalent of a marathon, before the end of April. BCR hopes to raise €40,000 for ground-breaking cancer research by encouraging 2,000 people to sign up for just €20. The idea is that everyone who registers should nominate five other friends or colleagues to do so also.
The charity has strong West Cork ties as it funds Cork Cancer Research Centre which was set up by the late Prof Gerry O'Sullivan from Caheragh. His daughter Orla Dolan now runs BCR now and his son Eoghan is also involved.
Lucy, an artist, said: ‘As someone who has had cancer, I’m in the high-risk category for Covid-19, so I had to postpone completion of my planned walk and now I have to stay at home cocooning. It’s a lonely time, without much focus, so I love the idea of ‘The Race that Nearly Wasn’t.’ It’s something to plan for each day and it will ensure that I keep a focus on being healthy during this time. I'm lucky as I live in the countryside so keeping my social distance is easy for me anyway. Some days I’m going to do laps around the field next to my house, and if the weather is bad, I’ll clock the kilometres inside by walking lengths of the corridor.’
BCR is also encouraging people to get creative with how they clock the kilometres – think laps of your garden or treks up and down your stairs if cocooning. If it is necessary to go out, the charity has stressed that people should stay strictly within the government's 2k radius limit, and fully observe social distancing, keeping a minimum of two metres from others at all times. Not only will this race encourage adults to keep active during this time, but it instils community spirit and is a great way to get kids excited about exercise and being out in the fresh air, they say.
Eoghan O’Sullivan from BCR said: ‘2020 has already been a year like no other. And never has the value and need for research, and the vulnerability of cancer patients, been felt so starkly. Breakthrough’s work is 100% funded through public donations and we have an ambitious target of €2m for 2020. Our work, the research we fund, and the treatments we help find are in jeopardy without continuing support from the public.
‘Unfortunately, the reality is that cancer continues to kill one person every hour in Ireland, every day, every year. This fundraiser will help to keep us on track to raise the essential money needed for cancer research to achieve survival for all cancers.
‘So, we are encouraging everyone who was planning to run, jog or walk in a race for us – and others who have never even contemplated doing a charity race – to sign up for this virtual lockdown challenge today. You can do it at your own pace and each step will help save our much-needed cancer research programmes that would otherwise have been lost due to the many recent fundraising event cancellations. Life will return to normal eventually, so let’s make a better future today – let’s help make more cancer survivors.’
‘The Race that Nearly Wasn’t’ follows on from Breakthrough Cancer Research’s other innovative recent initiative, ‘The Shop that Nearly Wasn’t’, which saw the world’s first shop, 100% stocked and staffed by cancer survivors, open in Temple Bar.
Breakthrough has already supported nine new treatments moving from the lab to clinical trial, and it has numerous more new treatments in the pipeline.
Lucy, who ran 100 miles in February 2019 for Arc House, is encouraging everyone to get on board.
‘Breakthrough and Arc are both brilliant services and are losing out on essential funds,’ she said.
And while she says her feet didn’t particularly enjoy her recent epic walk, she plans on resuming from where she left off, as soon as restrictions are lifted.
Sign up today to The Race that Nearly Wasn’t on www.theracethatnearlywasnt.ie, and nominate five people to join you. See www.breakthroughcancerresearch.ie