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Wednesday 17 January 2018

'Parents were told I'd die before four' - CF patient running second marathon

Helen Whearity is set to run her second Dublin Marathon
Helen Whearity is set to run her second Dublin Marathon

Her parents were told she would not survive past three years of age, but Helen Whearity wants to offer "hope" to other cystic fibrosis (CF) patients as she competes in the Dublin Marathon aged 40 on Sunday.

Helen, from Skerries, celebrated her milestone birthday in May, four decades after her parents, Frank and Val, were told of the dire medical prospects for their daughter.

Now the mother-of-one will take part in her second Dublin Marathon as a tribute to her parents and others battling CF.

"My mam and dad were told when I was three months old I wouldn't live past three years, so the marathon is huge for us," Helen told the Herald.

Positive

"I can't imagine getting that news about your child. I'll be doing this marathon for my parents, my family and everyone with CF - I'll be thinking of them every step of the way.

"This year has been a major year for me. I feel to get to 40 is a big achievement and certainly for mam and dad.

"It's hard to put into words. But I want to put a positive on that situation, to give hope to other parents getting that news now, that anything is possible.

"I grew up with my parents being really positive and encouraging me.

"My parents fundraised for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland and my granddad, James, took up cycling in his 60s and fundraised with my granny, Molly, by cycling across the country.

"My GP told me he knew older people with CF and he gave me the determination to believe I could go to college like them, get married, have a career.

"It inspired me to hear of those people and I want to give that hope to others too."

The former DIT student, who worked as a pharmaceutical technician until she became a full-time mum to daughter Emily, says it will be particularly "emotional" running past Crumlin Children's Hospital and St Vincent's Hospital, where she has been a patient throughout her life.

"I never thought I'd be able to do a marathon because of my health. I didn't think I could manage it," said Helen.

"But I took up running around seven years ago and I got to the half-marathon stage. Then, four years ago, I started taking Kalydeco, a drug that treats CF, and that's why I was able to do my first Dublin Marathon in 2014."

Quality

She has raised €1,500 for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, but is hoping to have raked in even more funds by Sunday.

"It's important to remember my parents and so many other parents had and have CF Ireland to go to when their child is diagnosed with CF," she said.

To support Helen, who is running with her friend Maeve for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, log on to their fundraising page at sse-airtricity-dublin- marathon-2017.everydayhero.com/ie/helen-maeve-s-marathon-for-cf

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