My Chatting Companion

Caroline McCourt

Growing up in a sporting family I guess it was inevitable that I was going to be involved in some kind of physical activity. Gymnastics absorbed most of my childhood and with my dad as my coach I had little choice but to do my best and do it to a high-level. When high school came along, of course I was involved in all the sporting activities they had to offer. I was a good netball player and loved athletics, particularly running, more specifically cross country.


We really were a sporting family – Dad was out every weekend playing cricket and golf, you would find my brother at football tournaments or swimming galas, as for my mum, she was always there on the side-lines cheering us on and waiting with the refreshments. Without the support of my mum I’m not sure that I or my brother would have achieved all the rewards and successes that our sports demanded of us. She was there to congratulate, to pick us up when things did not work out. I can hear her now saying ‘I’m so proud of what you’ve become’.


As adulthood loomed and life got busy with further study and a job it was difficult to keep up the sporting events, however I did try to get out running a couple of times a week and it was great as Mum came too, she wanted to keep fit so we ran together. It was a really special time, we caught up with all the gossip and put the world to rights, it’s hard to believe looking back now but February 2002 was the last time I ran with my mum.


Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, unfortunately the cancer was so far spread there was no choice, she had to have a mastectomy with intensive chemotherapy – we were all shocked! However, Mum took it in her stride, she was so positive and 18months later it was done, it was finished, it was over, she was better. And even more good news in January 2004 I found out I was pregnant with my first child, sadly that news was shattered as Mum found out only days later that the cancer had returned.


The consultant had told her that unfortunately some invasive cancer cells must have escaped from the breast and were now in the liver. As you can imagine this was devastating news. More chemotherapy followed, Mum was really ill, she didn’t cope very well with it, however on the 14th October 2004 she stayed up through the night as I went into labour and at 7.22am Olivia Patricia was born – my mum was delighted. We spent our last Christmas together as a family. In February 2005 my mum lost her battle to cancer, she was 55 years old.


I did not run for the six years that followed, then in 2011 I had my second daughter Emma Elizabeth. I have spent the last 10 years rebuilding my life with the support of my husband Nick and help from my dad who was totally crushed losing my mum. We together have raised and are thankful for my two beautiful girls Olivia (now 10) and Emma (nearly 4).


Six months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, fortunately I was having yearly mammograms which I began shortly after the loss of my mum. The mammogram highlighted the early stages of breast cancer – I had surgery almost immediately and I’ve just finished five weeks of radiotherapy treatment. I’m thankful for an early diagnosis and feel lucky that what I had was not life-threatening and will soon be over. Well life goes on, life is too short not to enjoy, and my mum would want me to be happy. She would want me to stay strong and told me; ‘wherever I am she would never be far away’. She was my inspiration, an amazing woman, I miss her so much.


If I could run a million miles to see her again believe me I would. Running has helped me put my life into perspective, it keeps me fit and healthy but most of all clears my mind and helps me to remember the good times. My mum would be so proud!



Caroline McCourt - 'My Chatting Companion'

In memory of Patricia Ann McCourt.



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