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09 Dec 2021

Celebrating Longford's Inspiring Women #IWD2021 - Jillian McNulty: People are now living like people with Cystic Fibrosis

Celebrating Longford's Inspiring Women #IWD2021 - Jillian McNulty: People are now living like people with Cystic Fibrosis

Longford's Jillian McNulty

As a Cystic Fibrosis patient, Jillian McNulty is in the high risk category as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to hold the world to ransom. Jillian is also a major campaigner for sufferers of Cystic Fibrosis and has raised significant amounts of money for charity over the years.

“The pandemic has given us all a reason to look at our lives and the opportunities we took for granted,” said Jillian.

“I understand people are frustrated. It’s been a long year since this began but we are almost there... vaccinations are just around the corner, the only way we’ll be rid of this is to follow the guidelines: limit your contacts, wear a mask, wash your hands and we will get to the other side.”

How will you mark International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8?

I’ll acknowledge all the amazing women in my life & I’ll wear some purple!

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s a day of recognition for all the success of amazing women, coming together and encouraging others to be heard in the hope that younger women use their voices to inspire.

#ChooseToChallenge is the theme for International Women’s Day - applying the theme to your own life and career, what might it mean to you and what is your view or interpretation on the theme?

Having CF I’ve always had to fight to survive, always fighting my corner and needing to be heard, in life you need to challenge certain situations whether it be in health, work and everyone has that right to stand up and be heard. Never be afraid to challenge something if you think change is needed.

Two ladies that have inspired you in your own life and explain why?

My amazing Mam, she’s always been at my back she’s my rock, having lost two sons Derek and Gary, she kept going for mine and my brother's sake. She brings me to all my hospital appointments. Has to wait for three to four hours on my dialysis days. She’s incredibly strong and stubborn so I know where I get it from!

The second is my aunt Yvette RIP. Yvette juggled family and work, like my Mam she was very strong willed and took no bull of anyone. Always as kids we had two Santas; Yvette was one of them she’d come to Longford with big bags of stuff for us. After hospital appointments she’d bring us for lunch and whatever we wanted we got, that’s not something I’ve ever forgotten and I’ll always be grateful to her. She’s very missed.

Covid-19 pandemic - how has it affected you and how are you and your family coping?

It’s been a little tough, I was extremely ill during the first lockdown spending over three months in hospital, but the last two lockdowns have been okay, I mean we don’t have a choice we just have to get on with it. It’s like people are now living like people with CF, we’ve always had to be careful of crowds, avoiding places in winter because of flu strains. I’ve worn a mask for years and before the pandemic would get awful looks and comments from people. Thing is when the pandemic is over everyone will forget in time and go back to “normal” but people with CF will still have to continue the isolation at times, the hand washing, the mask wearing. There’s always something to be afraid of when you live with CF.

Plans for when lockdown restrictions are lifted?

Travel! I want to see the Aurora it’s top of my bucket list! New York & Boston hopefully 2022! I look forward to hiking in the summer if restrictions are lifted. After that I’ll be happy just to be able to get in the car and go to Galway or Donegal or Sligo for the day, I miss our day trips myself and Mam would just hop in the car and go.

Any words of hope or wisdom for the women who might be struggling with the pandemic and lockdown?

The pandemic has given us all a reason to look at our lives and the opportunities we took for granted. I understand people are frustrated it’s been a long year since this began but we are almost there... vaccinations are just round the corner, the only way we’ll rid of this is to follow the guidelines: limit your contacts, wear a mask, wash your hands and we will get to the other side. There’s been many days especially during the past 15 months that I could get out of bed without help after my coma, during the summer I was so ill I couldn’t walk so any day you can get out of bed is a day to celebrate being given the gift of life. So we are restricted but it will pass, keep the head up, stay positive and we’ll get to the end of this pandemic.

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