A YOUNG Togher woman who wouldn't let a tumour in her spine, asthma and a rare blood disorder stop her from working, volunteering and hitting the gym has been described as an “inspiration” by her fitness trainer.
Pamela Looney suddenly lost the use of her legs at 15 due to a tumour. She spent nine months recovering in hospital and had to learn how to walk over a three-year period. It took a further five years before Pamela could walk without the aid of crutches.
Further to this, she also has asthma and a rare blood disorder called hypereosinophilic syndrome that affects her breathing.
Despite her health issues, she is an active volunteer with the Cork City Hospitals Children's Club of which her father John is the founder, holds down a job at Cork University Hospital and now she has taken to doing three weekly training sessions at Dan Sweeney's Health and Fitness Club.
The club has released a video on Facebook where Pamela tells her poignant story. It has been watched almost 7,000 times and people have been expressing their admiration for Pamela in the comments section.
“Getting into fitness is the best decision I ever made,” the 32-year-old told the Evening Echo.
“I've never taken such a big step before with my fitness. Before, I had only been doing physiotherapy while learning to walk and I always thought that I can't do the gym.
“I thought; 'I can't do that because if what I went through', but it turns out that I could.
“It has given me huge confidence. The first day I started, it was very difficult. I found it difficult doing a simple lunge. My balance couldn't take it.
“Now, I'm going into my tenth week. The gang in the gym are constantly saying how much I've come along with the things I'm doing.
“A lot of it is just about powering on. I did get frustrated and I did get annoyed and it might take a half an hour to do one thing, but we won't stop until we've done it.” she added.
Recalling the night she lost the use of her legs puts her progress in perspective and gives her the motivation to keep on going.
“I was always very active and always playing different spores and out with friends,” said Pamela.
“I remember the night it happened. I was in pain for a few weeks beforehand and I went to the doctor. They thought it was growing pains. I'll never forget it. It was very scary.
“You hear people giving excuses for not going to the gym like 'I hurt me leg five years ago' but everyone can do a little bit,” she added.
Her trainer Sam Jermyn said everyone at the fitness club has been given a lift by Pamela's hard work and dedication.
“Pamela has given us all a bit of inspiration and a kick in here. She's by no means done, we've a lot to push forward but her story from start to finish is a motivator and inspiration to everybody," he said.
To see the video visit facebook.com/DanSweeneyHealthFitness/videos/