LIMERICK is in with a chance to bring home the Mum of the Year title next month when Chris (Christine) Collins competes with 14 other national finalists for the honour.
“It is all a bit of a shock,” Chris, who lives in Ardagh with husband Tom and daughter Dani said this week when the finalists were announced. “I keep a very low profile and this is a real shock to the system.”
Chris was nominated for the Woman’s Way/John West Mum of the Year awards by her mother-in-law Mary and the news that she was nominated, let alone shortlisted, came as a huge surprise. However, Chris said: “It is lovely to be thought of that way.”
Chris is one of three finalists from Munster who will join finalists from each of the other provinces and from Dublin for the national awards final in Dublin on June 11 where the judging panel will include magazine boss and Dragons’ Den star Norah Casey, Woman’s Way editor Aine Toner, Miriam Ahern, and TV presenters Mary Kennedy, Blathnaid ni Chofaigh and Sybil Mulcahy among others.
Chris’ courage and good humour in the face of adversity are among the reasons for her inclusion in the national final. Having been born and reared in London, the daughter of an Ardagh woman, Chris met and married Tom from Newcastle West and moved to Ardagh in the early 1990s.
But when the couple were expecting their first child, Chris was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Happily, their daughter Dani was born healthy, although Chris had to undergo chemotherapy and then had a hysterectomy at 27.
Recalling that period in her life this year, Chris says: “You do what you know. I wasn’t sick. I was tired but I was surrounded by fantastic people and I don’t have any negative feelings about that time.”
But she was also diagnosed as having the cancer gene. “I opted for screening at the time,” Chris explains. But when her sister was also diagnosed as having the cancer gene, they both took the radical decision and opted for a double mastectomy.
“It wasn’t a case of if, it was when. We now have the same risk chances of developing cancer as anybody else,” Chris says, explaining why they took the decision.
They set out on that hard road about three years ago and then underwent reconstruction. “We are finished with it now,” Chris declares happily.
One outcome is that Chris, for many years a stay-at-home mum, is now dipping her toes into the world of business.
Having baked cakes for special occasions for family and friends, she has now set up cakesrus,ie where people can order a range of cakes for their special day.
And of course, she keeps on doing the things that mums are good at – knitting, making jam, growing her own vegetables and looking after the chickens, dogs and horses on the family farm.