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fundraiser Fiancée of Offaly man battling rare form of cancer takes on the Mater Foundation's '100 miles in a month' challenge'

Offaly man to join with his fiancée on Mater's '100 Miles in a Month' fundraiser by walking corridors of the hospital to raise funds for Mater Hospital where Kieran's now spent 100 days

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Jamie Lee Cooney with her fiancé Kieran Delaney who faces gruelling treatment

Jamie Lee Cooney with her fiancé Kieran Delaney who faces gruelling treatment

Kieran Delaney walking the corridors of the Mater Hospital

Kieran Delaney walking the corridors of the Mater Hospital

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Jamie Lee Cooney with her fiancé Kieran Delaney who faces gruelling treatment

The fiancée of an Offaly man who is battling a rare form of cancer is taking on the Mater Foundation's '100 miles in a month' challenge' to give back to the hospital that is helping save her partner's life.

Kieran Delaney (33) was left fighting for his life after he developed a huge mass in his chest and neck that almost crushed his windpipe.

After being rushed to the Mater Hospital, the carpenter was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma last November and he has remained there ever since.

Locked down in hospital and facing into another three months of gruelling treatments, the doting dad is planning on clocking up the miles alongside his superhero fiancée, Jamie Lee Cooney, to pay it forward to the hospital that saved his life.

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Jamie Lee and Kieran, who have a two-year-old son, are raising funds

Jamie Lee and Kieran, who have a two-year-old son, are raising funds

Jamie Lee and Kieran, who have a two-year-old son, are raising funds

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World, the brave football enthusiast said: "I was getting pains down the side of my arms and my neck began swelling so much it was impeding on my windpipe. I found it difficult to swallow food.

"I have asthma and I thought it was a chest infection or worse, Covid. This was ongoing for a week or so but one morning I couldn't get up, it was like the life had drained out of me. I couldn't breathe and my whole body was gasping for air."

Kieran, who has a two-year-old son Daragh with his fiancée, was in fact fighting a very rare and very rapid form of cancer.

"They found the mass in my neck and it was putting pressure on my organs. They told me it was bigger than the size of my hand.

Chemotherapy

"This type of lymphoma can grow within three to six months, if I had delayed any further in going to the hospital it's likely I wouldn't be here."

Having undergone 50 rounds of chemotherapy and countless lumbar punctures, the resilient dad is now at the halfway point of his treatment.

Heartbreakingly, due to stringent Covid-19 regulations, Kieran has had almost no physical contact with his family.

"I have been in hospital over 100 days now. My fiancée and child are at home and all you have are video calls and text messages. You can leave your room and walk down the corridor but you are limited to where you can go and what you can do because of Covid.

"I got to see Jamie Lee after Christmas for a few hours but I haven't been able to see Daragh.

"You have to keep your distance and wear your masks. The person coming up has to be swabbed for Covid to make sure they're not sick.

"If you do get a visit all you want to do is wrap your arms around the person but you can't.

"I feel like I am missing so much, the last time I saw Daragh was before Christmas.

"He doesn't understand why I am away and hopefully he won't because I don't want to upset him. There are nights when I look at him on video and it would break your heart because I miss him so much."

Kieran will now join over 10,000 people taking part in the annual '100 Miles in a Month' campaign and he promises to clock up miles in support of his fiancée.

"She actually did the challenge last year with no connection to the hospital but now she is doing it for me this year which really brings home how important this fundraiser is. I want to support her too and do as many miles as I can - I am restricted to where I can go in the hospital but I will do laps around the corridor. I am so proud of her, she has been amazing."

Hoping to give back in any way she can, Jamie Lee said: "Whether I walk, run or crawl I will do the 100 miles in the 28 days of February for Kieran."

Speaking of when he first fell ill, the mum of three said: "I had been saying to him that he hadn't been in his full health for weeks beforehand. He was waking up in the middle of the night with this unmerciful pain that had him screaming and crying out.

"I will never forget standing with Daragh in my arms at the doors of the ambulance while he was taken away to hospital. I felt so helpless."

Communicating via video chats and phone calls has been excruciating for the young family. "It has been so hard not to be by his side, we had a scare two weeks ago and I really felt that."

Due to complications, Kieran contracted sepsis and was whisked away to the high dependency unit.

"He couldn't answer the phone or get out of the bed. Before they took him to the unit he cried down the phone to me and said 'this is it, I am going to die'.

"Since day one I have told him he needs to be positive. That night it was the hardest thing to hold back the tears.

"Christmas was also a real struggle and birthdays are really hard, but I said to him, 'you can miss one birthday and one Christmas if you have 40 or 50 of them with us after.'"

Looking forward to the physical challenge that lies ahead, the mum-of-three has already raised over €1,300 for the foundation.

"Only for the diagnosis and the speedy treatment plan and care by the Mater Hospital we could be in a completely different situation - they saved his life.

"Aside from that they have truly tried to make him as comfortable as they possibly can. They brought him in an exercise bike to his room because he said, 'I am not lying here for six months not doing anything' and even met me at the door when he was craving a Chinese take-away.

"Kieran will be the push that will help me get over the 100-mile mark, I will be thinking of him and our future every step of the way.

"We have so much to look forward to. At the start of the treatment he said, 'come into the hospital and we will get the priest and we will get married in here' and I said, 'no Kieran, if you want to marry me you need to come out of hospital'. I have made him promise that he will come home to us."

Tom Hickey of the Mater Foundation said: "Challenges like '100 Miles in a Month' help to support patients and staff alike here at the Mater - 100 Miles is a perfect way for the public to support the Mater, take part in a socially-distanced campaign within their 5km limits and help critically-ill people, with the added bonus of keeping themselves healthy. We want to say a big thank you to everyone involved and best of luck."

  • The Mater Foundation is asking the public to support the campaign by checking out its local participants' fundraising page on Facebook, Instagram or Just Giving, and donating. The public can also support by visiting the Mater Foundation's website and donating there: materfoundation.ie/donate/.


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