EDEL Gallagher - mum of three, cycling enthusiast and breast cancer survivor - is determinedly upbeat about life. As she prepares for the annual Mayo Pink Ribbon Cycle on May 5, she reflects on her own personal journey and why the event means so much to so many in our community.
After feeling a pea-sized lump in her breast in 2010, Edel was diagnosed, had surgery and began receiving radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. Edel felt she had been given a timely reminder of the fragility of life.
“Sitting in waiting rooms and meeting other women who were travelling the same path, I was struck by the similarities in our stories. And I was made all too aware that while progressive advancements have been made in the area of research and treatment, the stark reality is that not everyone gets a second chance,” she said.
Recalling the side-effects of her treatment, Edel says: “I remember being devastated when I lost my hair. I thought it was absolutely awful.
“Now I realise how secondary that was to my overall recovery. I made a decision to be positive about my experience, and to grab my second chance with both hands, for me and for my family.”
Now an enthusiastic cyclist, Edel is an active member of the Garda Anthony Golden Leisure Group in Ballina and has participated in events all around the country. She completed the Anthony Golden Mizen to Malin Head cycle in aid of the Anthony Golden Memorial Park in September and recently the Dublin to Belmullet cycle in memory of the crew of R116 rescue helicopter, and notes how sport has a way of bringing people and communities together in a positive way.
The leisure group’s attention has now turned to all things pink, and the Mayo Pink Ribbon Cycle on May 5. Edel is tackling the 108km route, one of three routes available.
She explained: “There is a core group of about 30 of us, who are training every Sunday. We have a leisure cycling WhatsApp group, which is a brilliant way of encouraging and pushing each other on.”
When asked what makes the Mayo Pink Ribbon Cycle special, Edel notes: “There is a fantastic social aspect to Mayo Pink Ribbon. There is such an incredibly warm welcome, a friendliness amongst cyclists and volunteers, and a real sense that it is a community-driven event.
“You meet so many amazing people who have either been through breast cancer themselves, or are participating in memory of a loved one. The routes are always beautifully decorated with pink ribbons, and people out cheering in the various villages and towns. It really pushes you on as a cyclist.”
Edel is urging people to sign up to this year’s cycle: “For me, breast cancer research is personal, but I feel it is a cause that everyone can get behind. It could be your sister, your mother, your grandmother. It is something that touches every corner and every part of our community.
“As we approach the last few weeks before the cycle, I would urge people, young and old, to sign up.
“Do it in the knowledge that you are playing a hugely important part in fighting breast cancer and giving hope to individuals and families in our community.”
Join Edel and be part of something special at www.mayopinkribbon.ie or by calling (086) 8562423.