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Cancer survivor celebrates Father’s Day with fundraising run



A cancer survivor is running alongside her two boys and husband at Galway’s first ever ‘colour dash’ next Sunday to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society.

Lisa McCormack was just 34 when she found a pea-sized lump on the right-hand size of her neck in late 2013.

As she was feeling unwell and tired at the time, she decided to visit her GP who prescribed her strong antibiotics and ordered blood tests. They came back clear but within four days the lump had got bigger and other smaller lumps were appearing.

She returned to her doctor who referred her to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. They performed a needle biopsy which proved inconclusive. Just days later she underwent surgery, by which stage the lump had grown to the size of a golf ball. She was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Lisa McCormack with her sons Nathan and Daragh

Lisa McCormack with her sons Nathan and Daragh

“I was very lucky it was a tumour. Non Hodgkins Lymphoma spreads very quickly to all the lymph nodes around the body but because mine was a tumour on the neck it was spotted very quickly,” reflects Lisa.

She underwent six rounds of chemotherapy shortly afterwards and unfortunately reacted very badly to the treatment.

“After the first round I ended up in hospital violently sick for four nights. I had every side-effect going. Then on St Stephen’s Day my hair started falling out in clumps. I couldn’t believe it happened so soon.”

Her husband Aaron shaved it off and she continued with the treatment until March last year. Every two to three months she undergoes a scan. In the first year she was susceptible to bad viruses but she turned a bit of a corner last January when she started back running with Craughwell Athletics Club last January.

“I have to keep an eye on myself. I have two small boys bringing home everything and anything from school so I have to be careful. When I got sick I wasn’t even able for a short walk. I decided to join the Fit for Life team, doing a few kilometres at a time. Now we’re up to 8k.”

Life has returned to a more normal existence after the massive upheaval that cancer brings.  She went back to work in the human resources department of NUIG in February, but decided to switch to part-time.

“As I said to my husband, life’s too short. It makes life easier. Everything’s great. I’ve finished all my meds and feel good.”

Lisa, husband Aaron and their sons, Nathan (11) and Darragh (6) will all take part in the fundraiser on Father’s Day in Dangan, Galway. Colour Dash is a five kilometre run that sees participants of all ages running, walking or jogging the course. At each kilometre, a different colour – representing a different cancer – of powder paint is thrown at participants, creating a kaleidoscope of colour.

‘Dashers’ start the route wearing a white t-shirt that is quickly transformed into a colourful work of art. 2015 marks the third year of Colour Dash and to date over 6,000 people have taken part and over 4 tonnes of paint has been thrown.

“Every household in Ireland is affected by cancer in some way. Cancer can be a dark and scary word to many people but Colour Dash provides a fun and cheerful way that people can fight back against cancer, together, said John McCormack chief executive officer of the Irish Cancer Society.

“Whether you are running because you have beaten cancer; or for your mum or someone you love; or because you want to fund research so that fewer people face cancer; or fund services so fewer people face cancer alone, taking part in Colour Dash will make a difference.”

The five kilometres of the Colour Dash are: 1km: Yellow – representing lung cancer, 2km: Green – representing bowel cancer, 3km: Purple – representing cancer survivorship, 4km: Blue – representing prostate cancer, 5km: Pink – representing breast cancer. All of the money raised from the Colour Dash will go to the Irish Cancer Society.

To register call 1850 60 60 60 or visit

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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