Marathon man on the go again for Bone Marrow Trust

by Rose Barrett
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Clondalkin runner Marc Conlon is off again and this time he is taking on ‘12 Marathons in 12 Days’ in the UK for the Bone Marrow Trust.

It’s a very personal challenge to Marc as his cousin by marriage and friend, Kevin Rooney, underwent a successful bone marrow transplant in 2010.

The previous year, Kevin was diagnosed with cancer, and within an hour of the diagnosis, treatment began.

“It was so quick, and came on so suddenly. I had experienced Bell’s Palsy previously but it seems I had an acute and very aggressive illness. After that I was diagnosed with MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome) along with ALL (lymphoblastic leukaemia) – a very rare and lethal combination.”

The 21-year-old college student was then dating his childhood sweetheart, Sorcha Conlon, both students at Maynooth University.

“I went straight into treatment and there was no time or discussion as to the longterm impact of chemo.  I didn’t have time to address the impact on my sperm count or possibly having children, there simply wasn’t time!”

The Clondalkin man was told there was only a ten per cent of survival and zero percentage of him ever becoming a father naturally. But in 2010, Kevin underwent a bone marrow transplant, a match from outside the family.   “There were two matches found for me, one in Australia and one registered in Dublin, which of course, I accepted. I am so grateful to that person, I don’t know their identity but I’m alive and well 14 years later.”

Kevin and Sorcha were married in 2015 and had little hope of conceiving naturally (they were told it would be less than a one per cent chance). But in 2018, their daughter Harbour Hope was born (by natural means), much to the couple’s joy and that of the family. And now they have a wee four-month-old son, Caoimhín Óg, also conceived naturally.

Six months before the birth of his daughter, Kevin completed the Dublin City Marathon which he hopes to do this year, along with Marc who is Sorcha’s first cousin.

The pair will be supporting the Bone Marrow for Leukaemia Trust which provides direct support for patients and their family, whilst also supporting the Haematology Department at St James Hospital, Dublin. The unit is located at the National Allogeneic Transplant Centre and is the only location where an adult in Ireland can receive a sibling or matched unrelated donor stem cell transplant.

The Trust is also looking for volunteers to help raise funds and awareness for their work. If you’d like to donate, volunteer or wish Marc well in his 12 Marathons in 12 Days, then log onto https://bonemarrowtrust.ie/

“All donations would be greatly appreciated,” said Marc. “If any Dublin business or company could sponsor me, that would be great. You can contact me at 087 6900 589, or via my Instagram page: marathonman8888. I’d like also to thank my sponsors, Asics O’Connell Street @ShuzGroup, Dublin Bus, and Lazer Treatment Centre Hume Street (Mr Patrick Leahy). As Kevin and Sorcha well know, the work and support of this organisation was vital!” Marc undertakes his 12 day marathon challenge in Walton on Thames in the UK, commencing March 23.

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