An Omagh native has penned an inspirational book about his 1,000 kilometre (650 miles) walk of the Ulster Way in memory of his wife.
Dermot Breen dubbed his challenge ‘1000K4J’ in recognition of his late wife, Jacqui who died from ovarian cancer in January 2015. The marathon walk which he completed six months later in the summer of 2015, along with a number of other events in aid of Cancer Research UK, has raised over £20,000.
The book titled, ‘The Edge: Walking The Ulster Way With My Angels & Demons’ has just been published by Shanway Press.
Dermot explained, “My book is a very personal and honest account of how I dealt with my grief at losing Jacqui and it describes both the physical and emotional challenges that I was faced with, during my tough journey of discovery.
“It is not doom and gloom at all, as it also recalls the many wonderful people and places that I encountered over 38 days of the remarkable Ulster Way – a route that takes you through both beautiful landscapes as well as areas of stark isolation.”
The idea of walking the Ulster Way was originally born when he read ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce.
“In the book, the main character set off unexpectedly one morning to walk a distance of 627 miles to visit an old work colleague who is terminally ill with cancer,” he said.
“I gave Jacqui a copy of the book’s sequel and on the inside cover I wrote, ‘I would walk even further than Harold Fry if I thought it could save you.’
She really appreciated the sentiment behind my words. After Jacqui passed away, although heartbroken, an idea started to form in my head that perhaps I could honour her memory and help save others by walking further than Harold Fry.”
However along with pain and self discovery, the book is an uplifting odyssey of reflection which can inspire others facing grief and loss in the lives.
“It was a moving journey dealing with grief and moving from a place of despair to a better place. The support I received from people along the way really buoyed me up.
“I could see hope out of all of it. Doing the walk was very therapeutic and cathartic. I miss Jacqui every day but the feelings of hopelessness and despair are not as intense.You learn to cope.
“If it helps somebody reading about it, I will be very pleased. Physically and emotionally it was quite a journey.”
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