RHYTHM Dance Company, (RDC), Midleton, are well used to stepping it out and successfully crossing the finish line. The dance troupe are still buzzing from being crowned the first-ever winners of Ireland’s Got Talent.
In March 2009, the tumour halted, stabilising in size. Nell could stop chemotherapy treatment and be free of the central line in her chest. Nell kicked up her heels and re-joined her dancing partners.
“Like our strong themed songs in IGT, we knew that everyone can bounce back, no matter how big or small the obstacle,” says Billie-Jean.
“The power of music, of medicine, and alternative medicine, all contributed to the healing process.” When the tumour began to grow again; the family got ready to rally once more.
“It meant another year of treatment on a different drug,” says Billie-Jean.
“The treatment proved effective. The tumour didn’t shrink. But it didn’t grow. But as a Mum, I just wanted it gone.”
The cavalry arrived.
“The Mercy Hospital nurses, Olga and Peg, showed us how to manage things at home,” says Billie- Jean.
“I was expecting baby John and the girls gave me the tools to cope. I learned how to take Nell’s bloods which Conor took to the Mercy Hospital for testing. He was there in 15 minutes and it saved us another journey.”
Billie-Jean had another role to play.
“I had to pretend that everything was ok,” she says.
“Then, I’d go into the bathroom and think; I’m having a nervous breakdown.”
Nell was making a come-back. She was responding well to the medicine.
“She came back to herself,” says Billie-Jean.
“Soon, she was rocking her socks off. She began to recuperate and re-join her pals in dance class. When we put the music on, all the sadness seemed to just go away.”
Nell had four years where her scans were stable and in January, the magical news that the tumour had shrunk was celebrated far and wide.
“I asked St. Anthony for stable scans for Nell,” says Billie-Jean.
“I need it, I told him. And he did it.
“Nell is off all treatment after five years and the tumour is smaller. God was good to us.”
The dance team were good to go.
“After our audition and our success in the first round of IGT, we just said; Let’s Go. The Fight Song became our theme for our dance routine. That’s what we focused on.”
The dancers, confident and full of the joys of life, walked the walk of winners, talked the talk of fighters and danced their socks off, battling their way to the coveted first prize.
They claimed the spoils.
RDC are the first winners of Ireland’s Got Talent and they will star in their own hour-long Christmas TV Special.
“They will have their achievement forever,” says Billie-Jean, praising her dedicated dancers .
Now she has to deal with the 'fall-out'.
“I’m inundated with new pupils wanting to enrol in the dance school!” says Billie-Jean, laughing.
Apart from all the fame and notoriety, Billie-Jean is still just a mum.
“I still go out and buy the milk and bread every day,” she says.
She will always remain positive and steadfast. What is written on her 2018 calendar?
“A fabulous wrap party for sure,” she says.
“The Evening Echo Mini-Marathon in September is a great opportunity for us to promote health, fitness and positivity. That’s what we are about.”
Anything else on the wish list?
“Performing with Ed Sheeran in Cork would be a dream come true,” says Billie-Jean.
BY EVE GUBBINS
SEPTEMBER 16, 2018 will mark the 37th Evening Echo Women’s Mini Marathon.
Once again, the Evening Echo are the proud title sponsors of the event, which raises thousands of euro for worthy causes. The race is hosted by the Athletic Association of Ireland (Cork) and up to 8,000 people can register to take part in the event.
New this year is a family-friendly rate. The cost of registration for an adult will be €15. For every adult registered, three children under the age of 16 can register too, for just €10.
The race will be electronically chipped again, for the second year in a row.
Every registered participant will receive a medal — which got an overhaul in 2017 and received great feedback.
Ina Killeen of the Athletic Association of Ireland (Cork) said the race is open to everyone of all abilities and is encouraging people to sign up: “Our aim is to promote fitness, health and fun rather than competition.
“This isn’t a hugely competitive event, some people do tend to race, but mainly we aim to make it an enjoyable experience for families and everyone who attends.” There are no major changes to this year’s race, after a few shake-ups last year. Ina said: “Last year’s medallion was a massive hit and everyone loved it, the electronic chipping system made the entire experience easier for everyone!” The AAI Cork began planning for this year’s marathon, days after last year’s race ended.
“Planning for the event is constant. After we review the event that just ended, we figure out what went well and what didn’t.
“We have a few quiet months directly after the event every from around October to December.
“We still have frequent meetings but it’s in the New Year that the next event starts taking shape.” The majority of the funds raised through registration goes to the Athletic Association of Ireland (Cork). Ina said some of the excess funds goes back into sport in Cork, eg, maintaining their pitch in Kinsale. They tend to focus the funds raised on keeping young people in sport.
So how can people sign up to this year’s race? You can register at http://minimarathon.eveningecho.ie/ This year’s event is capped again at 8,000 so people are being encouraged to sign up early.
The Evening Echo Women’s Mini Marathon race offices will also open outside the restaurant in Debenhams, Patrick Street, closer to the race date.
The course for this year’s marathon stays the same. The four mile race starts off at 1pm on Centre Park Road. Participants will travel along The Marina, head towards the finish line via Blackrock Road. Monaghan Road marks the final stretch of the race, which ends at Kennedy Park.