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'I am an optimist' - CF sufferer Gary determined to still scale Kilimanjaro

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Dad-of-two Gary Bailey would be especially vulnerable if he caught Covid-19 due to his cystic fibrosis

Dad-of-two Gary Bailey would be especially vulnerable if he caught Covid-19 due to his cystic fibrosis

Dad-of-two Gary Bailey would be especially vulnerable if he caught Covid-19 due to his cystic fibrosis

A father-of-two who has been forced to cocoon due to cystic fibrosis is determined not to let Covid-19 get in the way of his plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next year - and get married this autumn.

Gary Bailey (32), from Sandyford, south Dublin, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at just three months after his parents noticed a salty taste off his skin when they kissed him.

Yet despite battling the respiratory condition for his entire life, he has never let the diagnosis define him - or slow him down.

He only recently informed his colleagues at Q102 and FM104 where he works as a sales manager because "I wanted everything I achieved to be based on merit".

"I was very private about it," he told the Herald.

Mr Bailey never let his diagnosis get in the way of living his life as actively as he could.

He was passionate about boxing as a boy but wasn't allowed to compete due to his illness.

"It was very disheartening, I struggled afterwards for a while questioning, an almost 'why me' attitude. But then it triggered something, lit a fire inside me that CF would never stop me living a normal life or pursuing things that my peers could do," he said.

He is an ambassador for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland and now, more than ever, is determined not to let the Covid-19 crisis stop him in his tracks.

He would be especially vulnerable if he contracted the virus because his lungs are only functioning at an 80pc capacity at the best of times.

For that reason, he is doing everything possible to avoid getting it, while still trying to lead as active a life as possible.

He is working remotely from his spare room at home, which can be challenging with a four-year-old daughter, Mila, and five-month old son, Bobby, at home with him, alongside his partner Aoife (32), whom he plans to marry in Portugal in the autumn.

However, the biggest challenge for him right now is staying away from others who could potentially infect him.

"Technically, I haven't left the house for about two or three weeks," he said.

However, to keep up with his fitness and training regime, he goes out jogging at 11pm every night when the streets are quiet. He avoids supermarkets and only buys basics at petrol station shops.

"It's an anxious time for everyone," he said.

"But I'm very aware of my surroundings. I'm purposely crossing the road or doing a sharp U-turn in the shops.

"I'm actively avoiding people and conversations at all costs."

Positive

However, he is trying to stay positive and maintain as normal a routine as possible.

"All we can do is be optimistic and plan for the best," Mr Bailey said.

In the meantime, he is training six days a week for his planned trek on Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro next April in which he hopes to raise vital funds for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland's annual fundraising campaign.

The 65 Roses Day campaign - named after how children typically pronounce the disease - was due to be held on April 10 but was cancelled due to Covid-19.

However, it is still hoping to reach its fundraising target of €200,000 through online donations at 65RosesDay.ie.