Consultant respiratory physician at Cork University Hospital, Dr Mike Henry, 50, this week begins several months training for the two-day 180km “Get Breathless for COPD” challenge, which aims to raise funds for the charity COPD Support Ireland, a group for patients with COPD, a chronic lung disease linked to smoking.
“COPD is a devastating chronic condition affecting over 380,000 people in Ireland; about 270,000 more remain undiagnosed,” said Dr Henry, who will undertake the cycle with medical colleagues from CUH, Dublin, Limerick and Galway.
“People with COPD often have to fight for every breath, so we want to take our turn and get breathless for COPD. I encourage all cycling enthusiasts throughout the medical profession and beyond to sign up.”
Dr Henry took up cycling some years ago after damaging his knee playing football. The Ballincollig resident wants to heighten public awareness of the disease, raise money for the charity and highlight the importance of exercise for patients with COPD.
“I’m no Stephen Roche, but I’ll be training from this week with a group of other doctors from the hospital,” he said, adding the group will initially cycle once a week from Cork city to Kinsale and back. They will build their training regime to three fitness sessions on the road and gym per week.
“We’ll be doing the Dublin-Galway cycle over two days. It’ll be tough enough, but if you’ve cycled before, it won’t kill you,” said Dr Henry.
This year he biked from Cork to Limerick and back for the Cork Support Group for Pulmonary Fitness. The father-of-three has also cycled the Ring of Kerry to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis.
“We want to draw the public’s attention to the burden of COPD, which is very significant in Ireland. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the world. After cancer and heart disease, it’s the biggest cause of death in Ireland.”
Backed by a professional crew of guides and support vehicles, the cycle will take place over two stages on June 10/11 next.