Nancy is a Mayo Pink Ribbon inspirational personality
Kiltimagh native Nancy Shannon - a soon to be great-grandmother - is undertaking the very significant challenge of walking 300km while raising funds for breast cancer research.
No mean feat for an 81-year-old woman who only two years ago was ‘barely able to walk down the corridor of the hospital’.
Nancy had TB as a child, which has left her with ongoing respiratory health issues.
But she isn’t letting that get in the way of supporting Mayo Pink Ribbon in their annual fundraising quest for the National Breast Cancer Research Institute.
She has signed up to the Mayo Pink Ribbon ‘300k Your Way’ fundraising challenge.
This challenge brings participants on a virtual 300km journey around the beautiful county of Mayo while raising much needed funds.
Nancy explained why she took on this big challenge.
“I was listening to Midwest Radio the other week – the Tommy Marren Show – and I heard Lourda McHugh, founder of Mayo Pink Ribbon, being interviewed.
“She was explaining the challenge – how a person could walk, run or cycle it - and that all the money raised would go to breast cancer research.
“Well, that touched a chord with me. I am a cancer survivor of 21 years. My husband PJ and I were diagnosed within six weeks of each other. Unfortunately, he passed away before I had even finished my treatment. But I know if he was here today he would support me all the way.”
As a cancer survivor Nancy says she is very concerned about the impact Covid is having on the early diagnosis of cancer in others.
She was told herself 21 years ago that if her cancer was any later in being picked up and treated she would not be here to tell the tale.
Nancy stated: “In these difficult times it is important that we get out into the fresh air – it benefits us both physically and mentally.
“I walk twice a day, every day, rain, hail or shine. Sometimes my daughter or granddaughter comes with me but often I go by myself and do you know, I love it – it gives me time to pray.
“After I do a walk I log my distance onto the Mayo Pink Ribbon app and I can see exactly whereabouts in the county I am. I absolutely love when I pass a milestone and I get some beautiful photographs and information about the areas I am visiting.
“I have learnt so much already about places in Mayo and I am looking forward to being able to visit them for real later in the year, please God.”
Nancy also suggests this would be a fabulous way for friends and family living away to connect with their Mayo roots.
A son or daughter living abroad could do the challenge alongside their family in Mayo and meet for a virtual cup of tea along the way!
She said: “I would really like to thank most sincerely all the people who have supported me so generously and for all the good wishes I have received.
“And, of course, a special thanks for my wonderful family, who are supporting me every step of the way.
“Without them I could not accomplish my goal. I have already raised over €5,900 which is just unbelievable and I never thought I could get anything like that when I started out.
“But I am going to say that I believe the research being done is so important that I am going to be a bit cheeky and appeal to people to keep donating.”
Lourda McHugh, founder of Mayo Pink Ribbon, paid tribute to Nancy.
“Nancy’s story is an inspiration to us all and we are incredibly grateful for her support.
“Every euro she raises will go directly to funding breast cancer research at the National Breast Cancer Research Institute, based at the Lambe Institute, NUI Galway.
“One in nine women in Ireland will get breast cancer in their lifetime and the ground-breaking work being done in research, particularly in the areas of early diagnosis and specifically tailored treatment plans, means we can now aspire to a future where a breast cancer diagnosis is no longer so frightening.”
Lourda also encouraged more people to sign up for the challenge. She explained that the event will run from now until May 31 so participants needn’t be daunted by the distance as if they start today they still have two months to complete the challenge at their own pace.
A unique feature of this event is that participants cover the journey their own preferred way.
They can walk, run, step or cycle in their own local area, adhering to all current guidelines, and combine the distances covered to reach the finish line, and in doing so “they will follow a breathtaking virtual route on our interactive map, showcasing the beauty, landscape and history of the county.”
It’s only €20 to register via the mayopinkribbon.ie website but participants are encouraged to undertake some additional fundraising where possible.
Nancy finished with the words: “I hope I can have the challenge completed by the end of May.”
After spending some time in her company I can safely say that I for one don’t doubt that she will.
If you would like to support Nancy you can make a donation at https://www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/11400493_nancy-shannon-s-page.html.
Or you can register for the challenge or make a donation directly on www.mayopinkribbon.ie