In this article, EIMEAR McELENEY explains why she’s running the Waterside Half Marathon this Sunday in memory of her mum, Siobhan, former deputy editor of the ‘Derry Journal’ who died in 2005.
The 2012 Waterside Half Marathon takes place this Sunday, with entrants young and old donning their running shoes to complete the 13.1 mile event.
For many, the half marathon provides an opportunity to keep fit, test their endurance levels and compete against fellow racing enthusiasts.
But, for me, the marathon is an opportunity to pay tribute to my mother, Siobhan, former deputy editor of The Derry Journal, who died in October 2005.
Almost seven years have passed since my mother’s death and, whilst the memory of her burns in our hearts each day, I felt an act of remembrance was long overdue.
My mother was diagnosed with a brain tumour in January 2005 and battled the illness for ten months with unfaltering determination, courage and, of course, a beautiful dimpled smile.
Anyone who knew my mummy will be aware of what a difficult task it is to attempt to find the words to describe her.
A role model to all who knew and loved her, my mother lived her life with great humility and her selflessness and kindness to others knew no bounds.
After joining ‘The Journal’ in 1981, she devoted every working hour to the office, up until her diagnosis. Every remaining second was dedicated to her “girls”, even during her illness.
It was unquestionable, therefore, that I would donate every penny raised in my mother’s name to Brain Tumour Research, a massively underfunded national charity.
Approximately 16,000 people are annually diagnosed with brain tumours, a cancer that kills more people under 40 than any other each year, yet, shockingly, less than 1% of national cancer research spending goes towards this.
Ten months may seem like a short time to part with loved ones, but, in reality, in comparison to other sufferers, ten months is a generous survival time.
I have come a long way from the young ‘athlete’ that my mother stood by and cheered on at vitally important sports days.
Firstly, I no longer require running shorts that are four sizes too small for an average person of my age, and secondly, my accomplishments amount to more than winning the ‘wheelbarrow race’.
Having begun my half marathon training somewhat late in the game - three months prior to the run – it hasn’t all been plain sailing, or rather, plain running.
I have endured the occasional injury in my attempts to better my previous running time – a trait I could only have inherited from the perfectionist herself – tripped over several unfortunate dogs, and persevered come rain or shine.
Nonetheless, with my training complete, I feel prepared for my first half marathon and whilst my mother will not be physically present - taking the usual action shots on camera – I am extremely grateful that I have three sisters to cheer me on in her place.
I could not have succeeded in my training without the constant encouragement from my family, friends and even strangers who just wanted to show their support, including the elderly man I passed on one of my runs who took it upon himself to time each of my mile-long laps.
I have received an overwhelming response to the cause with more than £1,000 raised so far on my Just Giving page online, including a very generous donation from a US Infantry officer who discovered my page via a friend on Facebook.
These online donations, which automatically go to Brain Tumour Research, will make every difference in assisting the charity to improve the quality of research in the UK, and more importantly, to improve the outcomes of brain tumour patients.
Whilst, in some ways, we lost our mother from the moment of her diagnosis, we were very fortunate to never lose her sense of humour, her kind nature, and her unassuming ability to make all those around her feel special and loved.
Had Brain Tumour Research had adequate funding, I believe that my mummy, amongst many others, would still be here today.
I urge everyone to donate to this extremely worthy cause, to give other families hope that they will never completely lose their loved ones to this terrible illness.
Donations can be made via: www.justgiving.com/eimear-mceleney
Eimear McEleney who is running the Waterside Half Marathon this weekend in memory of her mum, Siobhan, who died in October 2005. Eimear is also raising much-needed funds for the Brain Tumour Research charity.
Former Derry Journal deputy editor Siobhan McEleney.