A YOUNG Cork woman is taking part in this year’s Cork City Marathon in support of Marymount Hospice, who cared for her brave mum before she lost her battle to Parkinson’s disease.
Stephanie Lynch is in training to complete the Half Marathon in memory of Phyl, who passed away three years ago, and who she describes as the world’s best mum, her best friend, and one “of the strongest people I will ever know”.
Stephanie, from Rathpeacon, is an entrepreneur who set up OnTheQT.ie, an award-winning travel blog, vlog and digital marketing company, five years ago. She says the business allows her to do what she loves — travel the world, create videos and write about the beautiful places she comes across.
“Mum was one of my biggest supporters and was always inspiring me to follow my passion for travel and adventure,” she recalls.
Stephanie is not a seasoned runner, but the care her mum was shown at Marymount, where she spent her final weeks, has pushed her out of her comfort zone.
“The staff there are angels. I’ll never forget the care, kindness and peace they showed to mum and our entire family. They took the time to get to know mum and all of her crew and allowed us to cherish mum’s last few weeks with us. We had lovely family time together in St Christopher’s ward having picnics in the room and spending quality time together that we will remember and cherish forever. All of the staff in Marymount — doctors, nurses, care assistants, volunteers and everyone else who touched our hearts, we can never thank them enough for all of their time and kindness.”
She remembers how her mother didn’t let her illness dictate her life: “She enjoyed life to the full, travelling and enjoying every minute with family and friends. It was only in the later part of her illness where she was in pain and we cared for her at home. Mum spent her last three to four weeks in Marymount.”
The young woman says she feels a closeness to her mother while training which has made any aches and pains a little easier.
“I know she would think I was stone mad to be doing this but would be so proud of me. It has kept my motivation high and helped me to keep going and push on. I am definitely new to the running scene so this is a little outside of my comfort zone.
“I have participated in a few 5K races before but this is a big challenge for me. I knew it would be a difficult challenge but it has been even harder than I imagined, the past few weeks have not been without aches, pains and injury.
“However, I am determined to make it across that finish line.”
Stephanie has two older sisters, Emma and Ciara, and along with dad, Pat, says they are “a very strong team”.
“We are all a very close family and are always there for each other. The recent arrival of my two little nieces, Isabelle, aged two, and Alice, aged one, brings smiles to our faces every day. They have helped bringing lots of joy back into our lives. Mum would have adored them. Together with them and my partner Barry I have fabulous support.”
Stephanie remembers that family and friends were of utmost importance to Phyl, who had a degree in Chemistry and ran her own nutrition business.
“Her family and friends were of such importance to her and there was nothing she loved more than having family gatherings and celebrations, both at home and in Ardmore, Waterford — her favourite place to relax and entertain. She loved walking Ballyquin beach and family time there.
“Mum loved her style and fashion. She had natural flair for art and interior design. We have many of her paintings decorating our home. She took great pride in making our home a beautiful and loving place to be. Mum created a stylish home with a feeling of warmth and welcome for us to grow up in.
“She was one of the strongest people I have ever known. Always looking out for everybody, encouraging friends/family and was the most loving person. She would move heaven and earth for the people she loved.”
Her advice to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation is to ‘take it one day at a time’.
“You will have good days and bad days. Try to be in the moment and not think about anything outside of what you are going through.
“All that matters is you, your family and the person you love. You just need to be there for each other and don’t be afraid to lean on each other.”
Donations are pouring in from friends and family around the world to Stephanie ahead of the June 3 annual event.
She said: “Mum was my best friend who always encouraged me to reach my dreams. She was my number one cheerleader and I know she will be cheering me on as I run the half marathon.”
To help Stephanie reach her fundraising goal, see gofundme.com/cork-city- half-marathon-marymount