(photograph courtesy of Vera Twomey)
I bet lots of parents have said this. I know I have.
“I would do anything for my child. Anything.”
One Cork woman really is doing anything she humanly can for her daughter.
Today, I sat in my car listening to Cork’s radio station, Red fm. My daughter was in the backseat, sucking her thumb. We were returning home from a toddler music class. In stark contrast, Vera Twomey was talking to Neil Prendeville about her walk from Cork to Dublin. She was heading towards Cashel. I had been following Vera’s story in the media for the last few days.
Vera’s daughter, Ava, has a rare epileptic condition called Dravets Syndrome. Ava is six years old and can have up to twenty seizures a day. Vera is walking to Dublin to persuade the Oireachtas to approve legislation that will allow Ava and other patients the use of cannabidiol (medicinal marijuana).
Ava has been denied access to this drug which her mother, Vera, has explained to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, would significantly improve Ava’s life.
This is Vera’s second walk to Dublin.
Thinking in my car
I drove towards my house, listening to Vera. I’ll admit, I was teary eyed. I knew Ava’s story already. I had read the articles. I empathised with Vera and Ava and their whole family. I spoke to my husband about it. We talked about how amazing this woman is, how terrible it is that her daughter cannot access the medication she needs. And then, I carried on with my life.
It wasn’t until I heard Vera’s voice on the radio that the story truly resonated with me. To say that Vera is an “inspiration”, does not do her justice. Her words were straight forward, honest. She spoke her truth. What I heard in her voice when she spoke was a strong, determined woman. She also sounded tired.
“Why wouldn’t she be tired”, I thought to myself. “She has tried talking to the powers that be but who is listening? And now, she has to resort to walking from Cork to Dublin!”
Speaking with her feet
For the second time, she has to speak with her feet. She is walking 252km for her daughter. Six marathons. The weather has not been on her side the last few days. I thought about how cold, how sore she must feel. I wondered what goes through her mind as she walks. She must be thinking about her children at home. Carrying that worry on her journey. I wondered how she felt about the fact that her voice is not being heard. That, in order to be listened to, she has to pull on her boots in the lashing rain and freezing cold and walk to the capital city. She has to leave her sick child behind in order to try and get legislation passed that will improve her child’s life.
This woman is not only physically walking from Cork to Dublin to drop a note off to the government. She is carrying the life and the future of her child and other children of this country who are denied medical treatment.
We live in a world filled with alternative facts, fake news and sensationalised stories. A world that is politically divided. By walking and stating the facts, Vera Twomey rises above the rhetoric. She is, in my opinion, a modern day hero. She stands for truth, honesty, love and determination, in their purest forms.
Vera will get out of bed tomorrow and continue walking. She will continue her campaign for Ava. I support you Vera, as I am sure thousands of other people support you. It takes a person of great courage and bravery to stand up for what they believe in. You are more than that. You are a lioness. Protecting your child and fighting for her with all your might.
Please, take a moment, to share Vera and Ava’s story. Without women like Vera, we would soon forget what the truth looks like.