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Chemotherapy patient aims to put on 10kg for charity



A debilitating nausea and serious weight loss is all part and parcel of cancer treatment, but one Galway man is taking up an eating challenge that he hopes will not only help him to put on some weight after his chemo, and also raise funds for charity in the process.

“Every cancer patient’s journey is different and the tribulations we face are varied. The most difficult thing I’ve had to deal with has been weight loss,” said 25-year-old Conor Lane, who lived in Galway City prior to moving to London to study a Masters in Television Journalism.

At six foot five inches, Conor currently weighs 74kg, which is the low end of a healthy weight for someone of his height. That’s thanks to four months of aggressive chemotherapy which lasted nine hours a day, three days a week, every three weeks.

“On May 18, 2016, soon after completing an internship at CNN London, I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. It’s a rare bone cancer that formed in my rib, and from my rib a six inch malignant tumour had developed next to my right lung. The tumour was about the size of a melon and I certainly wasn’t sure whether someone could survive something like that,” Conor explained.

Ewing’s Sarcoma is rare and presents most often in children and teenagers, according to Conor but “regardless of the age, it’s true when they say that being told you have cancer is one of the scariest things you could hear”.

When he was diagnosed, Conor was in the capable hands of the doctors and nurses at the Macmillan Cancer Centre who assured him that, despite the seriousness of his condition, they were looking to cure him with approximately nine months of treatment.

“I was shocked, of course, but I felt that I was in great hands. For most people, the idea of being told you have an enormous tumour in your chest is a nightmare, but the actual size of the tumour was inconsequential after being told that my cancer was localised,” he said, emphasising that this was in fact lucky for him – if the cancer had spread to another part of his body, his chances of survival would drop.

The Macmillan Cancer Centre has been taking phenomenal care of Conor and, in return, he has set up a fundraiser on entitled #100DaysOfCalories, which will see him eating approximately 3,500 calories a day in an attempt to gain 10kg and raise money for a worthy cause.

“The idea behind our fundraiser was that there is no way we’ll ever be able to thank them enough for the help they’ve given me but we wanted to do something that would show how much we appreciate all that they’ve done. I had thought about wanting to do a fundraiser for a long time after I was diagnosed, but hadn’t been in good enough shape to do so,” said Conor

“I would like to be able to say that I’m aiming to run multiple marathons for Macmillan to raise money, a type of challenge that many people do, but being on chemo meant that was never going to happen at this time, so we had to think about what would be good for me.

“Maintaining weight is a big strain for a lot of people on chemo, so much so that they have to receive nutrients and fluids intravenously because otherwise they’d lose too much weight. The specialists were worried about me in the beginning because I lost a lot of weight suddenly, around 6kgs. It was something we had to reverse or else it was going to affect my treatment.

“The NHS provides free calorie shakes, little 125ml bottles that provide up to 300 calories per drink and I’ve been using them for months to help. I have been able to keep at a steady weight, sometimes fluctuating rapidly down and then back up again, depending on my condition.

“Chemo in the long run causes mucositis because it strips away the lining in your throat, making it impossible to eat with the pain. I had that several times and would sometimes go three or four days without being able to eat much solid food. So a weight gain challenge sounded ideal and tailor-made for me and my experience.”

It was Conor’s girlfriend of almost one year, Elisa Brugger who had the initial idea. The native of Brazil met Conor in January 2016 and said that the two quickly became inseparable. His diagnosis hit Elisa hard, but both have remained positive throughout the treatment.

“Trying to get Conor to eat more has definitely been a challenge. We’ve also had some sleepless nights at the emergency room and when he’s too weak to even stand up for long I have to do pretty much everything for him, but to be honest I really don’t mind any of that,” said Elisa.

“The hardest thing and also most important one is to keep it together emotionally. The truth is that everything about this is difficult, even being happy can be difficult, but if you can do that, everything else gets easier.”

So far, Conor and Elisa have raised 18% of their £10,000 goal for the #100DaysOfCalories challenge – and that’s just in the first week. The challenge has received a lot of support, and Conor will need all the encouragement he can get.

“I’ve never been a voracious eater to begin with, so it is definitely going to be difficult. I have to change my relationship with food. Food is normally something I’ve had when I needed, moreso than something I wanted,” he explained.

“Now that I need to eat around 3,500 calories for this challenge, I have to think about it a lot more often. And gaining 10kgs over the course of 100 days while on chemo, known for taking away your appetite and leading to a general feeling of unease and for some people, nausea, will require a good deal of effort.

“The outpouring of support from people for the challenge has been great. I’ve had a lot of people, who, when they learned of my diagnosis, wanted to help me and I couldn’t think of a way for them to do so. Now that I’m doing this challenge, they can really feel like they’re pushing me towards an important goal.”

■ To find out more about Conor’s story and to donate to the cause, visit JustGiving.

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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