AN inspirational Cork woman fighting breast cancer refused to let her chemotherapy treatment get in the way of running today's Echo Women's Mini Marathon.
Courageous Fiona O'Brien from the Lough was joined by her many friends from the Cork Cancer Care Centre who she was raising funds for.
"I thought I'd be at home or getting treatment," she said. "I thought my life would be on hold. After everything I've gone through in the last few months, it's good to have a bit of normality back. Some days I have to force myself to just do the little everyday things. You have good days and you have bad days. This is definitely a good day."
The group, many of whom had also battled cancer, were emotional as Fiona highlighted her reasons for taking part.
"I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of last April," she revealed. "At the moment I am finding it hard. I have one more round of chemo and four weeks of radiotherapy to go. A lot of people didn't know about my diagnosis at first. Even my colleagues at work thought I was on a long holiday."
She recalled the first time she walked through the Cork Cancer Care charity's doors on St Paul's Avenue.
"For me it was difficult," she said. "When you are in that bubble you don't know how to feel or even how to function. Then I walked in that door and saw Lynda. It was just so great to see a familiar face. It's good to go there and know that what you're feeling is completely normal."
Her friend and fellow Cork Cancer Care Centre member, Claire Murray emphasised why organisations like theirs are so important.
"It's important to have people you can confide in," the Fermoy woman said. "When something like this happens people step away. After my own diagnosis, there were only two people who called to my door. Sometimes people just get scared. With the Cork Cancer Care Centre there is always someone there."
Trevor Hollande from Mahon-also a Cork Cancer Care Centre member- was celebrating getting the all-clear from cancer by participating in the event. He opened up about his own diagnosis with throat cancer after fighting bone cancer years before that.
"I was on the phone talking to a customer when I started bleeding from the mouth," he recalled. "Even when I got to the hospital the bleeding didn't stop. That was when they discovered a tumour behind my tonsils."
The devastating illness resulted in Trevor shutting down his business.
"When one of the customers heard that my business was going he came into the garage and hugged me"
Trevor admitted he was taken aback when the customer handed him an envelope filled with hundreds of euro.
"He said that people were always ringing me up about their own problems. Now they wanted to help me with my mine. It turned out my customers had all chipped to give me the money. I'll never forget that moment."
He emphasised that cancer affects all of us.
"When you are going through cancer you go through so many emotions. I still suffer even though I never really worry about it coming back. You can wrap yourself up in cotton wool but still be at risk of getting cancer."
Trevor, who has now carved a new career as a painter and decorator, reiterated the importance of organisations like the Cork Cancer Care Centre."
"It's a tough journey and without places like this there would be nowhere else to go."
Reaching the finish line was a bitter-sweet moment for Trevor.
"I will shed a little tear," he admitted before the race. "When I was going through cancer I thought I would die at home, but I'm still here."