By Patricia Feehilly
Melanie Hunt is nothing if not indomitable. Just six weeks after undergoing a mastectomy following a breast cancer diagnosis in 2012, she enlisted in the Pink Ribbon campaign and walked the challenging 10km sponsored walk through the hills around Killaloe.
“My GP, Dr Karnie Roden was a member of the committee, and when she told me about the annual fundraising venture, I decided I had to do it,” she said.
For Melanie, who comes originally from Newport, it proved a most enjoyable and rewarding experience. “It was therapeutic,” she says. She won the Frieda Barrett memorial award for her determination and courage in finishing the trek, and she is now an annual Pink Ribbon walker. She is avidly looking forward to this year’s walk which takes place on Sunday 8th June, and which is expected to attract up to 1,000 participants, walking in pink from the Lakeside Hotel, across the bridge, through scenic Garraunboy, down the Main Street of Killaloe and back again to the hotel.
At the tea party launch in Killaloe, Melanie’s joie de vivre was palpable – even though she was again waiting for the result of a biopsy on a more recently discovered lump.
Early in 2012, she noticed the first lump on her breast and was referred by her GP to the Breast clinic in Limerick University Hospital. An ultra sound test detected the cancer and she had to undergo a mastectomy, but was spared the necessity of chemotherapy treatment because of the nature of the cancer.
It was a trying time for the family – her partner Dermot Kennedy and their two young sons, Jack and Jamie, who are now aged 15 and 11, respectively.
Apart from the massive fundraising for research and the provision of vital services and better facilities for sufferers, the annual Pink Ribbon walk plays a vital role in raising awareness of breast cancer. This is important to Melanie, who has her own blog of her journey with this disease that affects almost every family in Ireland. She believes that awareness is crucial and everyone should be alert. “On the first of every month, I text everyone I know, advising them to check their breasts,” she said.
Melanie would encourage everyone in Clare, Limerick and Tipperary to take part in the walk this year. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful day, with everyone walking together for the cause, and remembering the people they knew who have died. It’s truly a memorable experience.”
To date the event in Killaloe has raised over €280,000 for Action Breast Cancer, a programme of the Irish Cancer Society, which helps patients with breast cancer and their families. With walks in Kinsale, Kenmare and Kells the total amount raised will reach over €1,000,000 in 2014, a phenomenal amount in these economic times, and testament to the fundraising efforts of everyone who has been part of a Pink Ribbon Walk.
For more information on the Pink Ribbon Walk, and to register online for your sponsorship pack, please go to www.pinkribbonwalk.ie, and follow us on Facebook.com/PinkRibbonWalk and twitter @PinkRibbonWalks
Read more about the Killaloe Pink Ribbon walk here