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Cathy’s Story

26 Feb
Cathy Steps Up to Trek 5 Peaks in a Race and Road Trip

Local woman, Cathy Reavy, from Comber has signed her team of Walkie Talkies up to NI Chest Heart and Stroke’s Step Up Trek – a weekend in September of driving across NI to climb 5 peaks in a non stop race and road trip with her buddies!

Cathy was 26 when she was diagnosed with a hereditary condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy – which is essentially thickening of the heart muscle.

Cathy explained “It’s a condition that runs in my Dad’s side of the family and it was 50/50 if me or my brother would get it. Most of my family carry the defective gene but none have shown any symptoms so we did not need any treatment. Unfortunately, I did develop symptoms in 2002, which is typical because I was the only really sporty one amongst us.

My diagnosis came VERY suddenly. I was working as an Air Traffic Controller at The City Airport – my dream job and at the time was probably the fittest I had ever been. I was feeling light headed and went for tests at the hospital only to be told I wasn’t leaving the hospital because I had a severe heart condition – you can imagine my shock.”

Cathy continued “So I had to advise my work of my condition and unfortunately lost my medical which resulted in me losing my job! That was a blow. So not only did I have to deal with the fact I had a heart condition, but also the loss of my job and the loss of the active life I that I had up till then.

Nine weeks after my diagnosis I was fitted with an ICD – implantable cardioverter defibrillator, which is a pacemaker and defib in one. I have had 2 box changes since my initial fitting as a result of the battery running out. The defib has ‘shocked’ me 2 times which was quite horrific!

The condition I have can cause sudden adult death without warning, so I consider myself very lucky considering all the sport I do and have done all my life. I played all sports when I was at school and was Irish Javelin Champion. I also competed at International level and 3 day eventing on my horse.

But that all said, I feel blessed to be here and now I have the back up with my ICD to do all the things I want to. I think it has changed my whole outlook on life! Life is for living and there is a big world out there to explore and enjoy. Never let anyone put limitations on you! You know yourself better than anyone.”

Cathy finished by saying “I turn 40 this year and it’s going to be my biggest year for challenges and achievements. I will have ticked 4 things off my bucket list in 3 months. I did a tandem parachute jump last year, which was really scary. On the 7th May this year myself and 8 other Bootcamping team members completed the Dirty Rat Race in Burghley which is the Worlds Longest Obstacle course – 20 miles and 200 obstacles. On the 28th of May I will be doing the 3 Peaks Challenge. I have HELL & BACK mud race very soon, then The Mourne Wall and the Mourne Way Marathon both in July.

So as you can see I do not let my condition hold me back. I regularly go up the Mournes with my 2 dogs and do boot camp every morning.”

Find out more about the cardiac support services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.


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