Sunday 20 August 2017

'Our 15-year-old son took ill and died within the hour... that's why I'm walking the Camino'

Over the Hill

Waymarker on the Camino de Santiago
Waymarker on the Camino de Santiago
Marie Greene of CRY - Cry Cardiac Risk in the Young
Marie Greene of CRY - Cry Cardiac Risk in the Young

Marie Greene

20 years ago, we lost our youngest son Peter to a Sudden Cardiac Death. He was 15, took ill and died within an hour... just like that.

At that time in Ireland there was no information, no support and no screening for Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD). It was a steep learning curve.

The quest for answers set me on a path of no return. In 2002, my husband Michael and I set up a charity and, after major fundraising, in 2008 we were able to fund and open the CRYP Screening Centre in the grounds of Tallaght Hospital.

Our charity, Cry Cardiac Risk in the Young (cry.ie), receives no government funding, but to date 11,000 people have been screened under the very experienced eye of Dr Deirdre Ward, director of Centre, many who have lost a family member to SCD.

We see families from all over Ireland.

This year, on September 16th, I am taking a group to walk the Camino Francais for CRY Cardiac Risk in the Young.

Marie Greene of CRY - Cry Cardiac Risk in the Young
Marie Greene of CRY - Cry Cardiac Risk in the Young

We've been fundraising for years, but this is my first Camino - since January, I've out walking - recording times, distance and pace on my 'Map my Walk' app.

I can't claim to be a walker all my life, but we moved house some years ago and a friend asked if I would join a local walking group - Over the Hill.

It was started 12 years ago by a Scotsman, Brendan Doyle, as a small group had planned to walk the Camino and needed to walk some hills... literally.

The group has no joining fee, you just turn up at a designated meeting place at 11am on Monday, Thursday and/or Friday. We walk and talk about everything on our way over the hill, stopping for coffee for about 30/40 minutes.

By now, the group has grown to 100-plus members, with offshoots in a cinema group, theatre group, book club and, in recent years, we've also been taking a three-day break away somewhere in Ireland in September.

Daily walks on the Camino can be nearly twice as long as our 11km trek with Over the Hill, but they are no more difficult in themselves.

It's not a race, of course - and we have all day to walk it.

Walking is good for you - improving cardiovascular and muscular health. It has shown to reduce chances of depression and has a huge effect on mood.

Tips? I am aware that it is important to stay hydrated and to wear comfortable walking boots or runners and good socks. New boots should be broken in months before your trip, and I've have gotten all sorts of advice on feet in order to avoid blisters - changing socks and using Vaseline or use talcum powder a few hours into the walk, for example.

Oh, and tighten laces to avoid slippage which could cause a blister. Some have advised me to pack a pair of sandals if the weather is suitable - to change into after a few hours.

The mantra of the Camino is Eat, Walk, Sleep... but I'm sure we will add Talk. After years of walking with Over the Hill, we're pretty good at that.

Marie Greene is Co-Founder of Cry Cardiac Risk in the Young (cry.ie). Her Camino will help fund CRY and The work of CRYP centre at Tallaght Hospital. Donations welcome on cry.ie (click on DONATE NOW and use the option 'Marie Greene’s Challenge – the Camino for Cry 2017') or contact Lucia Ebbs, Operations Manager,  on 01 4525482 or atlebbs @ cry.ie.

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