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Inspiring local teen shares cancer story to help others

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"You can overcome anything"

By Michelle Crean

One inspiring teen's story of how she bravely overcame the shocking diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer is part of a new book which is set to help others.

18-year-old Holly Power, daughter of Vivian and Tony from Lewis Road, was left devastated to learn that her cancer was Stage 4 and advanced to her lungs, but is now bravely sharing her story to help raise funds for a cancer charity.

During the summer, local woman Bríd O'Connor wanted to create a book of stories about locals who overcame the odds and asked Holly to share her cancer journey. 'Spark - Stories to ignite body, mind and soul' is now ready to purchase and Holly is hoping her story will not only inspire others but help raise vital funds for Kerry cancer service 'Comfort for Chemo'.

"I was a bit hesitant to share my story at first," Holly, who is now making a good recovery, told the Killarney Advertiser this week.

"However, when I thought about it and how it might help others I decided to do it. It's for Comfort for Chemo which is why I did it."

Diagnosis

Holly, who is this week back playing for her beloved Dr Crokes, was just 16-years-old when she was first diagnosed.

After months of feeling run down and tired all the time, she eventually learned that she had cancer.

"I had been sick on and off since January that year [2018] but the weather was bad and I thought I was run down. I had swollen glands a lot and I was getting Vitamin B injections. Towards the end of May I had swollen glands under my arm. All my blood tests were coming back clear which is why no-one suspected."

Doctors then sent her to the Bons in Cork where she was eventually diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

"We were to go to Cork on Friday but got called to come on Thursday instead."

She explained how she was oblivious to the seriousness of the diagnosis at first and tried as best she could to stay positive.

"Being diagnosed was hard at first. They had to check all the [lymph] nodes and I had a biopsy. The consultant then sent them off and they both came back clear, and he said the lymphoma was hard to diagnose. I had to wait two weeks to hear and they said I had a 50/50 chance that I'd have it."

And while trying to gets to grips with the shocking news, worse was to come.

Just two weeks after starting chemo Holly and her parents were doubly shocked to be told that her cancer was in fact Stage 4 and had advanced into her lungs.

"It was bad enough just to be diagnosed but that was a double blow."

Life was hard for the teen as not only did she have to give up playing football but she also couldn't go anywhere due to a low immune system and risk of infection. She also missed out on Fifth Year in St Brigid's which she had to repeat the following year.

"I wasn't able to go to places, I had to stay at home a lot because of my immune system. Friends called and had to sanitise, that was before lockdown, but my family and friends kept me going. I was trying to have the best outlook. The word cancer is so scary, you think the worst case scenario."

Just under a year from the initial diagnosis Holly and her family were relieved to hear good news.

In May 2019 she was told that the cancer was reducing enough that she could go on with normal life.

"That was such a relief."

She said it proves that you can overcome anything.

She's now encouraging people to buy the book which is available in Eason and Blackthorn Gift Shop Killarney for €25 with money to help others undergoing chemotherapy.

"There's definitely a message in the stories. It's all for a good cause. By buying the book you're helping someone."

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Jobs to keep gardeners busy

The weather is glorious at the moment, so I thought I would put together some jobs to keep every gardener busy! Winter bedding is now available – so plant up containers and pots to keep everything cheerful this winter! Conifers such as Goldcrest and Elwoodiis are an excellent choice for a centrepiece, as are Cordylines, […]

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The weather is glorious at the moment, so I thought I would put together some jobs to keep every gardener busy!

Winter bedding is now available – so plant up containers and pots to keep everything cheerful this winter! Conifers such as Goldcrest and Elwoodiis are an excellent choice for a centrepiece, as are Cordylines, Phormiums and topiary plants such as Buxus and Bay laurels. Heathers give colour all winter, as do ornamental cabbages. Winter pansies, violas and Batchelor’s buttons are all in stock now, and will provide colour for months, Cyclamen are beautiful – but beware! They do not like getting too wet, so ideally use them in pots and window boxes which do not get too much rain.

Bulbs provide a welcome splash of colour in the early spring, at a time when things are looking grey and grim. Choose from an extensive range – tulips, daffs, crocus, snowdrops – to name but a few. Planting mixtures of different varieties can lead to stunning displays in a pot, for example, plant in layers: tulips at the bottom, then daffs, hyacinth, crocus and anenomes for a long lasting pot of colour. In the garden plant bulbs in informal clusters of uneven numbers to give a natural looking display. Alliums are particularly trendy at the moment, these ornamental onions are available in pinks, white and yellow.

PRUNING

Pruning is one of those jobs which can give immense satisfaction. All old flower heads, the straggly growth of herbaceous plants and branches of unkempt shrubs can go into the compost heap. Pruning equipment can be confusing for the new gardener, so here are a few guidelines: there are two types of secateurs, bypass and anvil. The anvil secateurs is used for dead wood, but the bypass secateurs can be used for live as well as dead wood. The hedge shears are used to prune large shrubs or hedges, but is best for soft or thin growth. Loppers are used to prune trees and thicker branches and have long handles. These also come as anvil or bypass. Some of these are geared, these take the strain and strength needed out of the job, an excellent invention!

As the days get shorter and wetter, moss will start to grow again. Treat paths before they get slippy, with a product such as MossOff. Try to keep fallen leaves off lawns as they contribute to poor growth of grass and strong moss growth. A leafblower makes the job easy – especially a cordless one!

Lawns benefit from a final treatment in the autumn with a product such as an Autumn Lawn Feed and Weed or Viano Recovery from the producers of MO Bacter. These products both treat the roots of the grass, making the plant itself stronger for the winter. They do not cause excessive growth.

Finally, if there are empty beds in your vegetable garden, consider sowing a green manure such as winter rye or red clover. These will prevent weeds from taking over as well as enriching the soil with nitrogen. In the spring they can be cut down and dug into the soil, providing essential organic matter.

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Take the stress out of a career change

By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors People change career for a variety of reasons. For some people the desire to change comes from feeling unfulfilled or stressed in a current role or the need for more flexibility and autonomy as circumstances in your personal life evolve. Other people are prompted […]

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By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

People change career for a variety of reasons. For some people the desire to change comes from feeling unfulfilled or stressed in a current role or the need for more flexibility and autonomy as circumstances in your personal life evolve.

Other people are prompted to change because of ambition to develop professionally, the desire for more meaning or purpose, job security or to earn more money.

Whether career change is forced upon you through organisational restructuring or is an active choice you are making, it can bring a mix of emotions. Among them is the fear and a lack of confidence on how to navigate the change effectively and the feeling of overwhelm associated with not knowing where to start. Conversely, it can be a time of great excitement about the possibility of taking on a new (and maybe very different) role or opportunity. Either way, drawing up a career action plan that breaks down the process into manageable tasks will help to ease any stress associated with career change and save you time and energy in the long run.

UNLOCKING YOUR POTENTIAL

Start by thinking about where you are now and where you would like to be – what are your priorities and non-negotiables and what are the practicalities you need to consider? To dig deeper do a self-assessment audit of your transferable skills and competencies, your career values and character strengths. Journal your career change journey by recording anything interesting you find out about yourself or career areas you are interested in. Some people like the idea of drawing up a career vision board as part of the process. Set clear goals and a specific timeline for yourself. As you gain more clarity, write out what your ideal job specification might look like, this will guide your job search. Explore options to up-skill or retrain if you feel this is helpful or necessary. Do a spring clean of your CV so that it reflects you accurately and favourably. Reach out to people in your network who may be able to assist you as you navigate this transition. Think about possible side projects you could work on to explore different areas before taking a big leap. Set up or update your LinkedIn profile, it is an important part of career development. Practice interview skills, you want to be able to perform confidently when they come around. Think about this process as unlocking the potential of your ‘career brand’ so that you and prospective employers have a strong sense of who you are professionally, what you value and what you bring to the workplace. Doing this work will enable you to approach your job search and career change with renewed confidence. It will take some time but it will be worth it!

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Careers Advisor – For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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