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Cancer survivor Shirley was given just six months to live - now, six years later, she’s walking 300 miles in aid of charity


Shirley McEntee

Shirley McEntee

Shirley McEntee with walking partner Fergal Barr who is from Londonderry

Shirley McEntee with walking partner Fergal Barr who is from Londonderry

Shirley McEntee

A cancer survivor who was once told she had just six months left to live is celebrating her miraculous recovery by taking on a punishing 300-mile charity walk from Londonderry to Cork.

Inspirational Shirley McEntee has beaten cancer on seven different occasions since first being diagnosed with melanoma in 2004.

And right now she is close to the finishing line of a gruelling 300-mile charity trek, which kicked off in Derry earlier this month and is due to wind up in Crosshaven, Co Cork, on Friday.

The 43-year-old, from Galway, has been forced to undergo a number of life-saving surgeries in recent years, including complex operations to remove part of her lungs and an ovary.

Her most recent surgery in 2014, which was a successful operation to remove a brain tumour, marked the end of a decade of battling the disease.

However, although she has now been in remission for three years, Shirley admitted she's only too aware that the cancer could return once again.

But the former paramedic said past experiences have taught her to live every day to the full and fill her days with memorable experiences.

Shirley's feat - which she is undertaking with Derry-based friend Fergal Barr - is all the more remarkable as her most recent surgery to remove her brain tumour left her with both poor balance and a limp.

However she has insisted that nothing will stop her finishing the epic 'Redhead300' walk later this week which will raise thousands for the Irish Cancer Society.

She said: "We're walking to Crosshaven because that's where the Irish Redhead Convention used to take place at this time of year.

"Unfortunately it's not being held this year but we still want to keep that connection going and raise money for cancer research.

"I couldn't have imagined I'd have been doing this a few years ago. Back in 2011 I was told I had just six months to live.

"But I was offered a trial drug and I took it and then a few months later I had a scan and thankfully it was good news. This challenge isn't easy for me. I walk in the mornings and then I'm done and go in the supporting car in the afternoon.

"But it's been a fantastic experience and I'd say to anyone who's suffering from cancer, try and get up and do something if you're able."

Shirley's walking partner Fergal added: "It's been a brilliant buzz to do this and we're already thinking about making this an annual event. Unfortunately, the Redhead Convention is no more, but Crosshaven has become the spiritual home of the redhead, so it would be great to do this again next year."

If you want to support the walk, email redhead300walk@hotmail.com. Full details of the event can be found at www.thekingisalive.com/redhead300. To donate, see www.justgiving.com/fundraising/redhead300

Belfast Telegraph