TRACEY Carty is used to tough challenges. Dealing with the death of both her parents amid a sea of grief and sadness, she kept afloat for her precious family.
So taking on the tough challenge of doing 300,000 steps in February for the Mercy Hospital should be a cake-walk for the mother of twins, Ollie and Tess.
“I don’t know about that, I’m not a regular walker!” says Tracey, laughing.
Like mother, like daughter.
“Mam wouldn’t walk the length of herself!”
Tracey is from Cork who now lives in Wexford with her family and with her Nana, who relocated from Farran, County Cork, after the death of her beloved daughter Geraldine Crowley in November 2017.
Geraldine was part of the Mercy Hospital family since 2004, having worked there as a dedicated health worker.
Now Tracey is very determined to take the big step, walking 300,000 steps for the Mercy in February and raising vital funds for cancer patients in Cork.
“I’ll rope in my Wexford pals!” says Tracey.” “And I’ll get the kids out.”
Geraldine’s working world was in St Oliver’s ward and in radiology in the Mercy Hospital, Cork, as part of the hospital’s support services. All the patients were happy to see her as she helped keep their spirits up, always having a kind word for one and all.
“She was known for her compassion and warmth,” says Tracey.
“For her smile and her gentleness.”
Tracey still finds it difficult to deal with the grief as a result of losing her mother when Geraldine was in the prime of her life at just 52 years old.
“It is nice to talk about Mam to you,” she says.
“It can be something I still struggle with since she passed.
Nobody saw Geraldine’s tragic demise coming.
“She suffered a brain aneurysm out of the blue,” says Tracey.
Geraldine had embraced life with open arms.
“Mam was in Galway on a ‘girlie’ weekend with pals, two women from Cork and two women from Spain. After the brain aneurysm she was on a life support machine in Beaumont. When she died, we donated her organs. It was a huge shock to my brother Ross and me,” says Tracey.
Geraldine was dearly loved and regarded by her family, her hospital colleagues, her patients, and her friends.
“Mam loved the Mercy,” says Tracey.
“And everyone at the hospital loved her. She made so many good friends there.”
The Mercy Hospital is known by everyone who passes over its threshold for it’s wonderful care, its dedicated staff and the utmost respect it shows for the families of its patients.
Tracey’s dad, Ray Seaman, spent his final weeks in the hospital too, being cared for by wonderful people.
“Dad lived in the UK and he came home often to Cork on holidays to see us,” says Tracey.
“He was over and back 10 times a year! Even though he lived away from home, he loved coming back here.”
Ray didn’t live to give Tracey away on her wedding day.
“Sadly, dad died in September, 2012, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer in September, 2011. Bile-duct cancer is normally terminal,” explains Tracey.
There was no coming back from the terminal illness.
“A good outcome wasn’t expected,” says Tracey.
“When dad was too sick to return to the UK when he was home on holidays, he spent his last weeks being cared for in the Mercy. He never got back to London.
“Dad was looked after by amazing doctors and nurses in the Mercy.”
Geraldine cared for Ray too.
“She was such a carer,” says Tracey.
Her mam always stepped up.
“When I got married to Andrew, Mam gave me away.”
Did a Wexford man sweep Tracey away from Cork?
“He did!” says Tracey, who spent 10 years working as a prison officer, in the Dochas Centre, a facility in Dublin for female offenders.
“I loved it,” says Tracey. “I used to commute to Dublin.
“More recently, I work part-time with the County Council.
“The twins, who just started Junior infants, are at home doing a bit of colouring and reading. Luckily, I’m not in the thick of home-schooling just yet!”
Doing the 300,000 steps challenge for the Mercy Hospital, a place that was such a part of her mother’s life and that cared for her dad at the end of his life, gives Tracey a meaningful connection to her roots, to her home county.
“The ‘make your mark for cancer walk’ from the viaduct to Bandon for the Mercy was a big part of my family's life every year,” says Tracey. She said her dad's family took part in the walk.
“Doing the 3000,000 steps challenge in February is a lovely connection for me back to Cork, which means a lot to me. And it’s perfect timing.”
Tracey, not a regular walker, is testing the waters approaching the challenge.
“There is always great support for fund-raisers for cancer,” she says.
“I set a target to raise €150, it’s already gone past €1,000.
“The Wexford crew are very supportive.”
Tracey’s nana is very supportive too, when Tracey wants to get a bit of training in ahead of the Mercy challenge.
“Nana is lovely,” says Tracey.
“Moving here from Farran was a big change for her. Nana is 80. She accepts things and she doesn’t dwell on the past.”
Like mother, like daughter, Tracey’s nana embraces life with open arms.
“If I have to go out for a bit, nana offers to mind the twins. She likes the idea of helping out. The other day I popped out to get school books. Nana stepped in and she kindly minded Ollie and Tess for me. Nana is the best she’s ever been.”
The family are used to stepping up when it matters most.
“Doing the challenge is a nice tribute to my mam and dad,” says Tracey.
“It’ll be a great tribute to both of them.”
Whether you have a New Year’s resolution to get more active or simply want to pass the time over the coming weeks of restrictions, The Mercy Hospital Foundation has launched the perfect challenge to help you do both and to support cancer services at the Mercy University Hospital at the same time.
The aim of the ‘28-Day Steps Challenge’ is to clock up 300,000 steps over the month of February — roughly 10,700 steps each day of the month.
Like all fund-raising events during the Covid-19 pandemic, this challenge is virtual, meaning it can safely be done in your own time, at your own pace and funds can be raised online by creating a Facebook fundraiser.
To help people stay connected while staying apart, everyone taking part will also be added to a special Facebook group to connect with the more than 800 others als0 taking on the challenge.
One of those who has already signed up is Yvonne Al Kaabi.
“I am looking forward to taking on the challenge in February and raising funds for The Mercy Cancer Appeal,” said Yvonne.
“Being a part of the Facebook group is a great help and means we can all support one another through the challenge.
“I have already picked up so many tips from people in the group who have done challenges like this before. It is the perfect way to do something different and to also stay connected with people at the moment.
“The Mercy is like a second home to my family and being able to raise as much funds as possible for it is so important to me.”
To sign up and be a part of this huge group effort to raise funds for The Mercy Cancer Appeal, visit www.mercyfundraising.ie and follow the steps to join the group and set up your own Facebook fundraiser. Upon signing up, participants will receive a special ‘28-Day Steps Challenge’ t-shirt and poster to help keep track of their steps.
All funds raised will go towards The Mercy Cancer Appeal to enhance cancer services at the Mercy University Hospital.
Speaking about the difference that these funds will make, Interim CEO at The Mercy Hospital Foundation, Julie Harris, said: “Funds raised through this challenge will support cancer services at The Mercy that help patients through every step of their cancer journey. We are especially raising funds for the Mercy Cancer CARE Centre. This centre will provide a safe space for patients and their families to receive support and avail of services such as our Psycho-Oncology service. This service helps patients to cope with the strain that their diagnosis can take on their emotional and mental health.
“We are very excited about this new challenge and it is great to see the support amongst those who have already signed up.
“The Facebook group for this challenge is helping to keep everyone connected while we stay apart due to current Covid-19 restrictions. We are encouraging anyone who is looking for a new challenge to sign up and be a part of a special group effort to support cancer patients at the Mercy University Hospital.”
Visit www.mercyfundraising.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org