Many of you will have had the pleasure of meeting Marie Chawke, our Director of Business Development and a key member of Dromoland Castle since 2017.
Energetic, hard working and much-loved, on August 26th 2020 Marie was diagnosed with Stage Three hormone cancer. Determined to weather the storm with her upbeat attitude, she began a course of fortnightly chemotherapy that ran from September through to December 17th. “Keeping a good positive frame of mind was key,” Marie explains. “I always felt and told myself that I was going to get better and had my wonderful team of doctors telling me I was going to get better.” Marie acknowledges that she was also surrounded by an incredible support network of family, friends and colleagues.
“One of the best bits of advice I received was to walk 10 minutes each day to clear the head.” Not only did she heed this advice, but, midway through her own radiotherapy schedule this year, Marie was inspired to embark on a much longer walk. “I had read a story in The Sunday Independent about a girl who had been diagnosed with the same type of cancer as myself, and who was planning both her wedding and funeral in the same hotel. Within the interview, she mentioned the wonderful work of the Irish Cancer Society’s nurses. The article also highlighted the loss of fundraising due to COVID-19.”
As Daffodil Day was approaching on March 26th, Marie decided to fundraise for the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day by sharing her own story and undertaking a 10km walk. After speaking to her husband and a few friends about the idea, everything moved very quickly. “I created a GoFundMe page and shared it on a Tuesday with a target of raising €2K. By the following Friday it had hit €50K!”
Marie was overwhelmed by people’s response to her walk, and we couldn’t be more proud of her phenomenal achievement. “It was a simple idea and I had humble ambitions, but then people took over.”
Acknowledging that her experience is just one story out of thousands of people going through the same thing, Marie has been deeply touched by the words of support she has received. “They have strengthened my resolve, while your generosity to the charities has been spectacular and will make a real difference to the lives of real people just when they need it most.”
Marie raised an incredible €50,303, which will be shared evenly between three cancer charities, The Irish Cancer Society, Kerry Hospice and the National Breast Cancer Research Institute.
This Friday, Marie reaches an important milestone as she completes her final radiotherapy session. The whole Dromoland Castle family is so proud of our fearless friend and colleague, as expressed by our General Manager, Mark Nolan. “Marie, you have dealt with your illness with grace, poise and that great determination and zest for life that you show at every opportunity. We are fortunate to have you as one of our most valued members of the team and are very grateful for all you do for us. As you round the last hurdle, we will celebrate together as we all get back to doing what we do best. Keep well and thank you.”