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CF patient Jillian to saddle up for 200km cycle challenge

CYSTIC Fibrosis patient Jillan McNulty is tackling an arduous 200km cycle challenge across Ireland – against doctors' orders.

Jillian (36), from Longford, completed the Dublin marathon last year in eight hours.

But now she has set herself a greater challenge – with a four- day cycle from Leitrim to Dublin from June 21-24.

The campaigner will make the trek from Carrick-on-Shannon back to her old haunt of St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin in memory of a friend.

Genetic disorder CF causes individuals to be more susceptible to life-threatening lung infections – it causes scarring on the lungs and pancreas. Patients have to attend hospital for several months for treatment.

Jillian became firm friends with fellow CF sufferer Eleanor Walsh while in St Vincent's.

Eleanor would have been 38 next Friday but tragically lost her fight with CF earlier this year. Now Jillian wants to do the cycle in her memory.

"We knew each other for years, we were very close," Jillian told the Herald.

"We were both in hospital at the same time but we were across the corridor. I said to Eleanor after the marathon that I would do a cycle.

Proud

"I think I was delirious with tiredness but I said that I would cycle from one end of the country to the other to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis.

"She said 'You're mad!' and we laughed. Then she got sick and I thought that I wouldn't do it. The night she died, I vowed to make her proud," she added.

However, medics at the Dublin hospital are not happy about Jillian's plan.

"I only informed them that I was doing it in March," Jillian said.

"I had pneumonia but I said: 'I have to get out, I have a cycle.' They were shaking their heads thinking 'not again'.

"My fitness has suffered with the pneumonia. I couldn't train, my vitamin D levels hit rock bottom and doctors were scared I would fall and break a hip. I went to Portugal for a week and now I'm good to go," she added.

"I'm not stupid either – if I wasn't able to do it, I wouldn't."

Jillian is raising funds for both the CF Association and St Vincent's University Hospital and has raised €1,500 so far.

Jillian said she was delighted that Eleanor's sister and friends from home are also taking part,

"It will be a mix of sadness and happiness in aid of a good cause," she said.

hnews@herald.ie


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