Twenty-year-old Sinéad MacElarne from Jenkinstown has come up with an unusual way of raising money for Cappagh Hospital and The Irish Cancer Society - doing a 5km run on crutches.
A second year physiotherapy student at Trinity College Dublin, Sinead says that she has spent a fair amount of time on crutches over the past two years.
'When I was 18 I spent all my time running, cycling and studying,' she recalls. She noticed that she had a dull ache in her leg, and when it didn't go away, went to a doctor to have it checked.'
Her GP sent her to have an X-ray and just two weeks before her Leaving Cert, she was diagnosed with an Aneurysmal Bone Cyst. 'In simple terms I had a benign blood filled tumour in my femur that had weakened the bone immensely, she explains. 'In just one X-ray my life had changed forever.'
At the time, she didn't fully appreciate the seriousness of her situation, but says that when she recently looked at the X-ray, she burst into tears. It was a challenging time for her, with lots changes taking place in her lifeas she finished school and left home.
'I moved to Dublin for college, I was meeting new people everyday and I couldn't even do the one thing that made me feel more like me. I had no idea who I was without running and was left feeling as though my own body had let me down.
'Luckily though, after just six months I was introduced to my consultant at Cappagh Hospital. He explained everything to me; how rare my condition was, how serious it was and from day one, he reassured I would get back running one day.
Sinead had her first operation in March 2019. 'Surgery is an extremely lonely and scary experience for anyone,'she recalls. 'Waking up afterwards I is the most pain I have ever experienced in my life. Yet, even in my anxious panicked state, the staff at Cappagh hospital managed to calm me down and take such amazing care of both myself and my parents.'
She spent nine weeks on crutches and then got the good news that her leg was 'fixed' exactly a year after the first X-ray. 'Despite being exhausted and in a huge amount of pain, with the help my fellow physiotherapy students I managed to complete my 1st year of college.' She event went to the Trinity Ball in a wheelchair.
However despite the success of the operation in removing the tumour, Sinead was in constant pain due to metal plate that had been inserted in her leg. 'Although I was able to run again, I couldn't do any activity pain free.' She then faced more surgery, which took place two months ago. 'Due to COVID-19, I wasn't allowed any visitors, yet all the staff made me feel so safe and genuinely cared for, that they took away any fear I had surrounding my surgery.'
Thankfully the surgery has worked 'For the first time in over two years I'm able to walk pain free and can start thinking about running again. I feel as though I've been given a second chance to enjoy my life thanks to my consultant, physios and staff at Cappagh Hospital. They have changed my life and I would like to help them', she says.
That's why she is getting back on the crutches one last time to raise funds for Cappagh Hospital and the Irish Cancer Society.
She plays to complete a 5km loop on crutches on Saturday between 12 noon and 2pm. She has already raised over €1,225 on her GoFundMe page.