LIFE changed very dramatically for Brenda and Pat Doody last year.
Up to then, the couple – Newcastle West-born Brenda and Ballingarry native Pat – and their two boys had been living a normal and very healthy family life in their adopted town of Tralee.
But as the couple were training for last year’s Limerick marathon, Pat “felt something was wrong and it spiralled from there”.
He was, to their great dismay and distress, diagnosed with oesophagus cancer last May and underwent extensive surgery at the Mercy Hospital in Cork in September. The 10-hour operation on removed his oesophagus, creating a new tract using half of his stomach. He has, fortunately, recovered very well and has been given the all-clear and hopes to return in good time to his position of research director of IT IMAR at Tralee Institute of Technology.
Meanwhile, Brenda, who is a health and fitness instructor, has decided to take on a mammoth challenge: to complete 12 marathons in eight months and raise funds for the work of the Mercy Hospital and its cancer team.
“I would normally do a marathon a year,” she explained. “And I had originally said I would do a few and I planned on finishing in July. But Pat and I had planned on doing the Dublin Marathon together last year and when he mentioned maybe doing the Dublin Marathon himself this year I thought, why not?”
Brenda’s plan then evolved into doing eight marathons, one a month between now and Christmas. “I was looking for one in August and it was the Donegal quadrathon, that is four marathons in four days which came up. I said I will give it a go.”
Her first marathon is in Tralee on March 15 and she has also included the Barringtons Hospital Great Limerick Run, on the May Bank Holiday, in her schedule. “Limerick, of all the marathons, is my favourite. The support there is amazing,” she said loyally.
“Once you look after yourself, it is OK,” she added. “Nutrition and rest are the most important for the next eight months.” But, she laughed: “I would say come October, I will retire.”
Before, she admitted, she ran marathons against the clock. Facing into 12, she is planning on running slow, but getting to the finish.
“I have been following a plan since September,” Brenda said. “The most important thing is to make sure you get in the miles.”
“I’m ready for it all and I hope it’s going to become a massive fundraiser. I just wanted to do it for the Mercy and the work of consultant Tom Murphy who saved Pat,” she said, explaining why she said yes to such a challenging undertaking.. “Tom and his team were amazing and I just feel the least I can do now is to raise as much money as possible for research at the hospital.”
“I am looking forward to getting going. At this stage I feel I am ready to go,” she added.