A cancer survivor who was once told she had just six months to live is celebrating her miraculous recovery by embarking on a punishing 480km charity walk.
Shirley McEntee, 43, from Galway, has beaten first being struck down by melanoma in 2004. She has also undergone a number of life-saving surgeries in recent years, including complex operations to remove part of her lungs and an ovary.
Her most recent surgery in 2014, an operation to remove a brain tumour, marked the end of a decade of battling the killler disease.
However, although she has now been in remission for three years, Shirley admits she is only too aware that the cancer could return at any moment. The former paramedic said past experiences have taught her she has to live every day to the full and fill her days with memorable experiences.
And she is more than keeping to her word, as she edges ever close to the finishing line of the gruelling trek, which kicked off in Derry earlier this month and is due to wind up in Crosshaven, Co Cork, on Friday .
Shirley’s feat — which she is undertaking with Derry-based pal Fergal Barr — is all the more remarkable, as her most recent surgery to remove her brain tumour left her with poor balance and a limp.
However, the former redhead — whose efforts will raise thousands for the Irish Cancer Society — said nothing will stop her completing the epic ‘Redhead300’ walk later this week.
“We’re wallking to Crosshaven because that’s where the Irish Redhead Convention used to take place at this time of year,” she said.
“Unfortunately, it’s not being held this year, but we still want to keep that connection going and raise money for cancer research. I couldn’t have imagined I’d have been doing this a few years ago.
“Back in 2011, I was told I had just six months to live. But I was offered a trial drug and I took it and then a few months later I had a scan and thankfully, it was good news.
“This challenge isn’t easy for me. I walk in the mornings and then I’m done, and go in the supporting car in the afternoon. But it’s been a fantastic experience and I’d say to anyone who’s suffering cancer, try and get up and do something if you’re able.”
Fergal, another former redhead, added: “It’s been a brilliant buzz to do this, and we’re already thinking about making this an annual event. Unfortunately, the Redhead Convention is no more, but Crosshaven has become the spirtual home of the redhead, so it would be great to do this again next year.”
Full details can be found at thekingisalive.com/
redhead300. To donate, see justgiving.com/fundraising/redhead300
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved