Sinead Flynn will be one of almost 2,000 participants who will take part in this weekend’s Solas Centre South East Run for Life.
Now in its seventh year, the event is a highlight of the South East’s sporting calendar and this year will be no exception.
Sinead last participated in the Run for Life five years ago, but this year’s event will have a special meaning for her and her family members.
Sinead’s brother Brian (43) died from cancer earlier this year.
The acclaimed musical director passed away on Friday May 9th, leaving behind his loving family members including children Ruby and Ben.
Sinead is preparing herself for this Sunday’s event and believes it will be a very special occasion.
“Lots of people have told me to be prepared for the emotions when I finish. When I last did the run, I looked at people with memorial t-shirts and saw that they were upset and overwhelmed, and I suppose didn’t really get it because I hadn’t lost somebody close to me. I was looking in from the outside, not really understanding the emotion,” she explained.
Since Brian’s death, Sinead has benefitted from the services offered by the Solas Centre.
“It’s become my haven and my escape once a week,” she said.
“It was the following week after Brian’s funeral was over that I realised I had lost a sibling, somebody I had idolised since I was a child and a friend as well. I didn’t want to put my grief onto my family, so I rang the Soals Centre. A lot of people don’t realise that they also deal with family members. I had always thought it was just for the people who were sick. They welcomed me with open arms.”
Sinead continued: “I rang and met with the Director of Services and spent time with her telling her my story. I now go there every Tuesday, have a cup of tea and a treatment, maybe reflexology which helps me to sleep. My sleeping patterns aren’t great as there’s not a moment where I’m not thinking of Brian and what he went through before he died. The centre offers so many different treatments, anything you could think of to make people feel better. There’s a lovely feeling in the centre and I really look forward to my visit each week. Although nothing takes away from losing a sibling, the Solas Centre helps and gives me time for me. ”
Sinead will participate in the Run for Life with a number of family members and all will wear t-shirts featuring Brian’s photo.
“It will be sad but it’s important to get together as a family,” said Sinead, who has so far raised an incredible €1,300.
“I got a donation of €1,000 from a person who said that he wanted to donate money to a charity as Brian meant so much to him. Brian didn’t use services during his illness but he felt that the Solas Centre should benefit,” she explained.
Conscious of the current economic climate, organisers have reduced the minimum contribution for each participant to €50.
“I look at life differently now and don’t take life for granted. One minute somebody is so talented, fit and full of life but then they get an illness that there’s nothing they can do about and within a year they are gone. My saying is ‘life is too short’,” said Sinead, who is encouraging people to come along on Sunday and support towards participants along the route.
Nicky McEvoy (54) from Grange Heights is another beneficiary of the Solas Centre who is also encouraging people to support the Run for Life.
Nicky was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in May 2011 and spent five months in isolation in St James’s Hospital, Dublin.
“When I came home I visited the Solas Centre to see what I could avail of and, when I got my health back, to see what I could give back in return,” he explained.
Nicky availed of reflexology, meditation, art therapy, and was then introduced to the centre’s men’s group which was in its early stages.
The group meets for two hours every Tuesday morning in a relaxed and informal setting.
“The aim is to make men more aware of their illness. Men find it hard to speak out about their illness, but the group allows them to speak to other people who have gone through a similar experience. Each person has the opportunity to speak and they are much more positive when they leave the meeting,” explained Nicky.
He praised men’s group facilitator Tom Mullane and fondly remembered one of the founding members of the group, George Drohan, who sadly passed away recently.
The activities of the men’s group are not just confined to the centre, as participants enjoy various different outings such as walks around Dunmore East and the Kilbarry Nature Park.
Nicky, an avid angler, has promoted angling within the group.
The members of the men’s group were also recently active in supporting ‘Blue September’, which highlighted men’s cancer.
Members also co-operate with the nearby Daffodil Centre for various different initiatives.
Ensuring Nicky is kept busy, he also volunteers as a driver for cancer patients as part of the ‘Care to Drive’ project.
Nicky is a great example that a fulfilled life can be enjoyed after illness and says he wants to give something back as he feels blessed to have his good health.
He believes you have to remain positive.
“I believed in the hospital team and prayer, that’s what got me through,” he said.
Praising the Solas Centre, he said: “The Solas Centre gives a warm welcome for you and your family. Staff are there to listen and give great support throughout your recovery and keep you positive.”
The Solas Centre South East Run for Life takes place this Sunday October 5th.
For further information contact the Solas Centre on 051 304604 or check out the ‘Solas Centre South East Run for Life’ Facebook page or Twitter @solascentre.