A well-known Mayo cyclist who is suffering with cancer is to begin a 600-mile cycle for charity this weekend. Martin Connery from Ballyhaunis was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2007 and, after suffering a serious allergic reaction following six months of chemotherapy treatment, decided to try and remain healthy through an active lifestyle and positive attitude.
His decision to take on such a massive physical undertaking in aid of Cancer Care West has astounded medical professionals. However, Mr Connery, who has since been diagnosed with lung cancer, declares he is feeling extremely well at the moment and continues to watch his diet and keep his pH level below 7, which is believed to prevent the growth of tumours.
Two years ago Mr Connery discovered his body actually had too many tumours for doctors to operate on.
“My consultant at Castlebar hospital held up a scan and began to count the tumours, and when he got to eight I said, ‘don’t count any more’, as I knew he couldn’t get rid of that many.”
Given that his mother, father, and sister all died of cancer before the age of 60, Martin was aware the disease could catch up with him. To prevent such an outcome he has lived an extremely active life over the years, joining the rowing team in his native Limerick from the age of 13, before going on to become an active cyclist and member of the Annagh Wheelers after moving to Ballyhaunis 25 years ago. He is currently club chairman for the Connacht region.
“So it still came as a shock in 2007 to learn I had cancer, and I remember saying, if I got anyway healthy again, I would raise funds for charity. I’m 58 now so I’m dead set on getting past 60.”
His colleagues in the cycling clubs haven’t pulled back a gear to make it any easier for him either.
“My cycling colleagues really pushed me and I have benefited by going out cycling with them a lot. They keep pushing me and that is good. I know if I go for a burst I get badly caught for breath as the cancer is in my lungs, but if I build it up I’m OK, so overall, I’m feeling great.”
Mr Connery decided to cover the 600-mile journey from Donegal through Sligo, Galway, and Mayo to cover the areas where services are provided by Cancer Care West.
“I know cancer will take me if I’m not knocked off my bike and killed by a car first, but I hope to be around for a few years yet and my attitude is just to keep fighting. I honestly believe by being out and getting air in and not letting the tumours rest that I’m pushing them around the place so they cannot settle and grow. Most of all I am not just sitting back. If you sit back and let the cancer come, it will come for you.”
Martin, who is originally from Clancy Strand in Limerick, is grateful to his wife Leona and sons Ian and Mark for their continuing support. He will be cycling into Mayo from Sligo tomorrow morning (tomorrow June 5 ), stopping over in Ballina at around 10am near the Moy Cathedral before heading on to Galway. All donations to Cancer Care West from those who come across Martin on his journey will be much appreciated.
If you would like to support Martin Connery, contact Cancer Care West on 091 545000/ 087 9120853 or visit www.cancercarewest.ie