Battle Tested through 15 months

  • I know it’s been a long time again since I put my words to this blog. Life just really took over for my mother. Again some of you know the reason I wasn’t taking fights was that my mum became my No1 priority. If you think of it the minute you are born that’s exactly what anyones mum will do for the rest of her life.
  • My Mum Fifteen months ago was told she had a tumor on the artery of her pancreas which made operating on it very risky and life threatening. The catch was they couldn’t get near it to test for Cancer. Mum like a few others had a rare and tricky case. After months of going to different specialists and waiting for results, they said best thing to do was treat it as cancer. That was a big risk because it meant chemo, which at first didn’t work. Our hearts sank a bit but never was her or my will broken.

    My mum had to be brave again and go through a mix of chemo and radium all through Christmas. Twenty eight days in a row, every night after her work she went and did it. She got up every morning worked eight hours in a busy shop and then at night had the treatment. Christmas is a time when everything should be just filled with fun and family but mum was lying down in a big machine getting a great tan as she said to me 😉

    I loved the way she just kept it real, she would say if it’s my time then nothing I can do Catherine. Just make sure I give you my bank PIN number to the millions.

    Each day was tougher but she went through it and never once gave up. The doctors said her mental attitude was what had saved her. In April of 2019 we were told that the radium worked. It shrunk the tumor to a safe size to operate.

    She now faced a major surgery of 9 hours and a two months recovery. That time she was in hospital was very scary and sometimes heartbreaking to see her in the bed with so many wires connected to her. Endless needles, bruises to her arms trying to find good veins for the drips. Seeing seven nurses attend to her in the bad moments. Feeling helpless to do anything to make it better. Just waiting outside her room till I was told I could go back in and hold her hand. Let her know we can beat this, try to make her smile again.

    Again she fought it, my mum made sure to stand up and walk the ward five times a day. Sometimes I had to run to keep up with her as I was afraid she might take a poor innocent out with her speedy drip trolley thing. I mean she’s dangerous enough with a shopping trolley 😂

    When she was left out from hospital she was filled with a freedom. I could see the relief in her face, that she had been battle tested just like a fighter is, but with us fighters it’s over in a few rounds. Mum went into a War, it’s still not ended.

    Mums body is now majorly changed with the surgery and the awful radium treatment. She’s gotten very weak and thin because her pancreas was never working right. Some days she’s good and then others she’s got really bad pain. Sometimes I’ve had to lift her up to bed, watch her sleep. Annoy her to take her tablets.

    She often would act like the child and now the roles have reversed. I’m the mean mum.

    She would often apologize to me for causing all this hassle. I would always remind her of the many times she stayed with me when I was sick as a child. Many sleepless nights on not so comfortable chairs in hospitals. She gently rubbing my head and singing songs to make the pain go away. Always worked! Never did she make me feel like I was giving her hassle. She just made me feel love. Love, Hope and chasing dreams has always been my mums words to me.

  • All I hope for now is that mum gets finally some quality of life back. I spent fifteen months cornering my mum in her toughest life Battle. She became a true Champion in those months. Now that it’s hopefully nearly done, I am determined myself to return to the octagon. Through the months she was sick, I still trained every moment I could get. I had to stay focused and strong for her. Martial Arts mentally prepared me for this moment with her.

  • Now when I fight again it’s going to be a rejoiced feeling because I have the health to do what I love. Anyone who feels they have a raw deal in life, would need to go visit the chemo ward and sit. Witness people trying to be brave and some coming out of rooms crying uncontrollably with their children as a result of the news they have been given. Watch small kids and young people battling hard. I will rejoice in my life and how absolutely brilliant it is. I will be by my mums side always and hopefully we will get that holiday soon and as she says I’m owed a good kick up the ass for being bossy! When she’s saying that I know she’s getting better.

    Next time I write here it will be about the alpha female return! Who wants to see me back and where?


    The words within this photo I still truly believe in and I hope soon enough I’ll make the crowd stand again for me. I turned 38 last month, and I’m still hunting the highs in life. My passion for being a fighter is stronger that ever. My hope is unbreakable because every day I find another part of myself to make better. Either it’s in my training or my teaching in my gym.

    At 38 I’ve got a steady business and a deep passion within me. I love who I am and how I’ve actually changed. I’ve questioned myself over and over, no fearing the truth just charging straight at it. If anything I’ve freed myself and loved even stronger the fighter and woman I am.

    On the fight career side of things, I’ve been close to getting fights but the shot keeps failing through on us. Yes I know people think 38 she’s old, should retire but I’m sorry I’ll never uttered those words because I’m a full time MMA coach as well. I’ve got to compete to become a better coach to understand the hurdles and mistakes and to pass on the correct knowledge to my students in Pankration.

    Why should I stop? I’ve still got desire, passion and hope. How many of my alphaforce can say they are truly happy in ever part of their life, career and relationship. To me I think it’s stupid to ignore the unhappiness you have in life. We only get one.

    Last month my mum who I thought was Superwoman got very sick and ended up in hospital. I’d visit her every day and see sick people all around me just looking like they had lost hope and happiness. It’s a very sad thing to witness but one I felt could have been changed if these people chased the dream of happiness. Not settling on just getting on with things.

    I made sure every day to go see my mum and be as positive for her as possible, while making her laugh. I knew the best way she would recover would be to keep her hope strong. My mum went through two surgeries over two days and aced them. The nurses and doctors couldn’t believe how fast she recovered. Many more would just have sat around feeling sorry for themselves but my mum chopped through the challenge.

    The best birthday present I got this year was taking her home from hospital and seeing her well again.

    I’ve really begun to understand fighting isn’t always going to be in my life, that high I would get from it is pretty hard to match. Having a World Title is still so very much a dream of mine if it comes then I’ll take that shot.

    If it doesn’t I know I’ve got the World Title of living a good and happy life. Think about getting your own Title in life alphaforce. I can’t wait for 2018 and again all the challenges I can conquer.

    Dignity my most important Victory 

    Cage Warriors was my moment to get back my dignity, any fighter will tell you, we need to feel that we still belong in our Arena. Mine was Dublin co main event on a very special night, cheered on by my friends and watched by the alphaforce worldwide. 

    Many won’t ever feel what freedom is or how it’s achieved but on that night I released every piece of fear, pain and doubt inside me. That was freedom, to go out and raise my hands to the crowd knowing I had won, even before I threw the first shot. 

    I had done and backed up my words and actions over the last fifteen months of recovery from another possible career ending injury. I had taken the choice to possibly taste defeat again but this time it was a different Catherine. I had my pride back, that I could still stand in the Cage and feel the fighter inside me spark again. Burn brighter than ever before and bring a clarity to my journey. 

    If I told you all I wasn’t scared then that would be lying. It’s good to admit fear as when you defeat it, then it has a bigger meaning to you. 

    Scared of not believing in myself was the biggest enemy to defeat this time. Some days I would cry after training or sparring as the flashes of loses entered my mind. In those moments I would sit on the cold mat of my gym with Dermot and find somehow the ability to stand up again. To go again because to be honest it’s never really about wining the fight, it’s about being at peace that you didn’t run away. Take the easy choice and retire. 

    I’ve seen many do it and every time I meet them again I see a sadness in them. They have lost a dignity in themselves. That they let fear master them and if you really are a true fighter, that will haunt you inside forever. I don’t ever want that regret. I still have I think a few fights left in me, a journey or two to experience. It’s why I fight, because the journey is the knowledge and truth about myself. 

    I will never find that in a normal day, only when I spark the flame in that the Arena do I feel alive. I am leaving my alphaforce with this video taken on the night and as it goes through the stages of my warm up you can see, my fear is beaten out of my chest and found in my screams, emptying my body. I’m understanding it and the moment I’m about to enter. Huge thank you to my sports Psychologist Rob Dawson who took my fear and showed me how to kill it, my corner Dermot and Peter for joining my quest to get my dignity back. Cage Warriors was one of the most magical nights for me. I’m damn glad I never let my fear master me.

    No Finish Line 

    This photo came up in my memories today on Facebook, it’s a painful reminder not that I lost a fight but that I’m a year out from what I love being a fighter. It’s hard to express to people in my life how much this hurts, for me the blogs are my way of facing it. 

    Why a year? Why another moment missed? Why I feel empty inside, just going from day to day with really no direction. No Finish Line!  

    It’s hard to explain but you become a fighter to really understand living but you need the finish line as well. It helps you feel the achievement, you need an opponent to drive you to train hard every day for whatever time it takes to make it to the night when your moment comes. The Cage it always gives you honesty at the end. It’s screams in every round you are alive! I feel dead inside some days, that the fighter is gone. 

    Right now my opponent is my injury, an updated MRI after my back surgery still shows some more work to be done before I can load it to take the hits in training. It was hard news to take from my surgeon. It’s not all coming together the way I thought. I did think I’d be back fighting by now, getting ready to fix my mistakes of the previous fights and feel the fighter in me again. 

    I’m sad and lonely in myself this year and certain moments it hits me when I either choose to sit on my ass have a cry or block it and carry on with the day. 

    Usually I carry on with the day, but still the piece of being a fighter is missing. I love teaching my students and if I didn’t have that, then I’d have given up along time ago. They depend on me to always be the strong one but I need someone to help me now. 

    People who inspired me and helped coach me have moved on, I don’t have that support network anymore they have other things in life now which makes them happy. 

    No matter how many friends I have and as great as they are with words of drive it’s different when you get the talk from one who’s done it. The fighter that came back and gave everything to be the best. That person who shows you the way, that believes in you. That kicks you harder than any motivational quote! I’m really missing that part in my coaching. 

    My main coach Dermot still is by me but even he finds in hard some days as we have no Finish Line maybe not even a start line for now! 

    What can I say Alphaforce pretend that things are great, that I’m made of steel and don’t feel! Bullshit! As that stuff isn’t really in life, we all need a challenge to prove we are made of an undying passion for something in our lives. Mine is fighting! I’m meant to be it, I’m meant to drive to the Finish Line. I swear to my Alphaforce I’m not stopping, none of this retirment crap either. I’m done when I say I’m done. Just need to find another way and I will, I always do. The one thing none of the surgeries did over the years was kill my passion. That’s untouchable because I guard it with my heart! 

    Today I’m just updating my Alphaforce and being honest. I want people to always read my blogs, see it’s ok to not have everything going right and maybe have no answer for that problem at that time. What’s not ok is letting it defeat you! I’m not done, just need to search a bit harder inside myself on the tough days. Oh and keep doing the Physio, tons of Physio, always Physio!!! 

    To be the greatest of all time. 

    A few weeks back we lost Muhammed Ali. The greatest boxer of all time but was it for his actions in the ring or out of it that we pen him with this Title. 

    The more I age in my career I’ve got to think it was outside really. Listening to all the media stories on him, I’ve come to see his boxing in the ring did nothing to give him that tag just it was the way he believed in himself. How that spread confidence to others, normal people who didn’t think they could change or impact on life, seeing him made a future of stronger human beings. That’s a powerful gift he gave us all. 

    Two weeks ago even myself he managed to affect. I saw a programme on his life story and I had never known he was out for five years in his career where he couldn’t achieve his dream but yet he still held that dream tightly in his heart. Five years on he came back and got his World Title. 

    I thought I’m out nearly another year due to the surgery but I don’t feel sorry for myself, just understanding again that if I hold my dream and focus than I can be greatest but to myself. I need to know and accept that it’s only for myself now that I return again to the octagon then again is it? 

    Now I will be truthful and say I’m selfish to the fact that this year I won’t give as much time as last year to media, as it did pull me from the mats. When first you become a fighter  no one knows who you are, you don’t care what people think you just train to prove to yourself you’re the best on that night in that moment. No pressure to go out to be perfect to get the win every time and you don’t think about the outcome. You just do it. 

    Now the thing with media as Ali knew it has the power to reach people half way across the World to affect a path in life. I truly believe he did it for that reason because he knew people need hope. 

    I need it every day to get up start again. I take it these days really from myself. I look in the mirror and see a winner more now than two years ago when I was the undefeated alpha female.  

    In one year I’ve gone through a break up of a seventeen year relationship, losing in my career and another painful injury that led to surgery. Yet here I am still chosing to hope and see myself back. Hearing chants from a crowd  making them watch my return giving them hope to stand up and become better in life no matter what happens. Sorry Alphaforce I think I just went off into a rocky moment 😉

    Back to media, as I said it reaches people you may never meet. Last week I did an interview for a small Limerick start up community radio station, in my home town. I guess looking at it I could have said no as its  only small time, will it do anything for me? I had to take extra time to stay on to do it when I could be back home chilling and to be honest Friday the start of my day of training was a bit awful and I thought forget the whole thing. 

    Then I thought of these people involved in the programme as they  are trying to achieve dreams as well to help Limerick and show what great people live in it. I went and did the show which was live in a shopping centre and at the end a young Limerick man who didn’t seem to have much but was rich in kindness with his words, he told me it was great to watch my debut last year in Las Vegas on Invicta FC representing Limerick, no matter the outcome. He didn’t make me feel bad for losing he just gave me hope. Hope that people like him are the reason I still refuse to bow out. I left with that gentlemans words deep in my heart. To say I only do this now for myself is a lie as I do it for this genuine hardworking people. 

    How amazing people can be and its not what you do in the career inside a ring or octagon but it’s outside every day. Ali knew that and he was the greatest for it, rest in peace knowing you created a World of champions in life. 

    A superhero in real life… 

    Re born

    alphawords.jpgIt’s over eight weeks since the surgery and I got through the long days of recovery on the couch or else walking my Dog. I won’t lie, I did have my down days but I stuck with the plan of attack, just find things to keep myself busy. I tried as much as I could to eat right and try to keep lean muscle. I was after surgery 56kgs but I’m nicely down to a lean 54 kgs and still have my Alpha Female Abs. My back hurt a lot for the first month but this didn’t worry me because after the other hip and neck operations a few years back well I knew what to expect and I remember how I came back stronger after them.

    No matter what everyday  I got up and walked Oscar and most days twice, I refused to just sit around doing nothing. I still had a full time gym to run and maybe I couldn’t teach but I still kept the day to day run of it going with Dermot. He was great checking on me everyday and telling me to keep the rehab up. I don’t think Dermot has ever stopped believing in me and that is why I achieve my goals.

    Next thing was how to keep my fight edge and lucky me I had just the right man working with me on it. Enter Rob Dawson, Mind Consulting Limited, a sports pyscologist who really loves what he does which is basically getting me to see my worth as a fighter and person after a few tough months. He would chat with me every week and we would work together on visualising me training in either shadow boxing combinations on Flash Cards or MMA drills sent in audio. I’d sit on the bed and feed my nervous system this information. Like Dominic Cruz says, no such thing as Cage Rust and I’m making sure of that by starting the mental drills after the surgery.

    Soon enough, after a few weeks I went to my own Physio Peter Walsh in Nenagh and he gave me some Cognitive Functional Therapy exercises.  Again maybe I didn’t need to start this physio 4 weeks after surgery but Peter said you aren’t the average person. If we hold back on getting gentle movement back then that would slow me down in recovery. Everyday  I would do the physio which sometimes made me look like a belly dancer. I’ve Sharika hips now, maybe another avenue of work if I can’t get more sponsors this year 🙂

    I would do the shadowboxing drills sent to me and now suddenly I was actually begining to do them physically. The pain was still with me but less everyday and I was noticing my fight body was coming back from eating clean and of course taking my Elite Dr.Dave’s Supplements which have made my body steel inside on every operation recovery.

    Last Friday I went for my post op check up with my surgeon and his physio tested me up and down, guess what every step I took in the 8 weeks has paid off. I’m well ahead on recovery and I got given an upgrade in physio exercises.  Every time I’ve had to have a major surgery  I’ve always had one feeling after. I wake up in the recovery room in the Hospital’ it’s an exciting feeling of rebirth to me and the last time I had that feeling I came back and won five fights in a row. I’m not done yet because I still desire glory. Keep with me Alpha Force because I’m believing again.

    What a year…

    How do I start this blog? By finally telling the truth of the hardest year in my life. It’s nearing Christmas and people are out going shopping or attending parties. I myself have been stuck in the house for the last few weeks with my snoring doggie by my side and to be fair to Oscar he has keep me upbeat all through my recovery from another surgery.
    Let’s do a flashback of moments on this and help my Alpha Force understand why I didn’t perform to the highest level on two World Wide MMA events.
    Flashback one, sometime around May I started getting bad lower back pain, rested it for a bit and tried to keep up the training. I had a very big moment coming on the horizion and InvictaFc July was what I had been waiting for and nothing would stop me getting there. I had dealt with pain from my neck for eight years before the fusion surgery and still trained everyday and fought. The difference with this back injury was it really stopped me from training in wrestling and jiu jitsu. I had to go without doing any lifting for six weeks and this affected my strength and conditioning work, which is a major key going into a fight. I guess at the time I thought with physio and rest it would pass.

    Flashback two getting a call from the commission saying I need a full set of medicals done within two days. Holy Batman because what followed in achieving a fight license was complete madness. Me on a seventeen hour flight to Vegas while unknown to myself I had locked fusion joints, a herniated disc and bad nerve damage in my spinal cord. We only found this out in a more detailed MRI after the fight on Invicta.
    I remember on the plane journey just sitting with this feeling of pain constantly darting through my back, the only relief was getting up and going to stand in the bathroom. When I finally got to my hotel room in Planet Hollywood I dropped my bag and also my tears on the floor. You have got to understand this was the first time I had gone anywhere on my own and without my coach Dermot.
    I know Shannon did her best to get me somewhere to train but I lost training time in medicals and the commission meeting. Also some coaches were too busy to train me and I’m forever grateful to Roxanne Modafferi plus the super kind coaches and fighters at Syndicate MMA they kept me going.
    When I did train in the sparring classes or with Roxy I’d try to hide the pain and keep going but evenually I’d have to finish up early because it hurt to even walk and in my heart I knew it was going wrong. I’d usually go back to the hotel at night and just eat whatever I could find in supermarkets to keep me on weight. That was one very lonely week but I will say Shannon told me I could come up anytime I wanted to her room for a chat.
    I didn’t want to annoy the president of Invicta Fc because I saw how busy she was putting together the details of the Invicta card and getting my medicals sorted. Anytime I did go up to her room she treated me with respect, kindness and she made me laugh.
    Shannon works very hard to make sure WMMA is represented at the highest level for the world to watch and I never got the feeling off her that it was about money. For that reason as well I fought because I didn’t want all her hard work and costs going to waste and to be fair I had a nation behind me. I’d get messages nearly everyday leading up to the fight from my Alpha Force which were filled with love and hope. How could I let these people down.
    Flashback three, I need a work visa and guess what the American Embassy have a big problem, the system that prints them is down for a whole month!!! That was the middle of June. WTF! At this stage how Dermot didn’t get a heart attack trying to manage all this paperwork and legal documents with Shannon I don’t know! He spent many nights up to all hours connecting with America to try and get the Visa sorted. He was my coach and he was being pulled away by all of this and this affected the camp.
    It looked like many times the fight wouldn’t happen and many times I’d be training and have to stop to answer questions or sign documents. My stress level was high. I remember going for the Visa interview in Dublin three days before I flew for the fight and hoping I would get it, again another day of training missed. I was really angry and stressed and in pain at this stage. I did get my Visa of course but again it cost in time and money to me.
    Flashback Four, getting an email for Invicta saying I needed a pregnancy test done at a certain time so the commission would have it, normally not a problem but when it’s seven o clock at night and you are teaching in the gym your last class it makes it hard. If the test and results were not faxed over that night again I wouldn’t be fighting. I closed the gym and raced to my doctor who lucky enough was working late and really helped me out.
    I can’t say enough good things about my Alpha Force around me that helped with many a problem that came up in this fight and for them I made sure I showed up on that night at Invicta. I may have lost but these people have never left my side, no matter what happens they are true to believing in me. This also makes me defiant and drives me to return next year on better terms.
    End of the day I entered that Cage and lost in a way I had never experienced before and nothing could prepare me for that feeling. I made huge mistakes and paid the highest price. I can’t turn back time but now by choosing to have the surgery, I’m finally taking control and over the last five months especially I’ve made steps to change myself and become a new fighter and person.
    Flashback Five, maybe this is the one that’s the hardest to tell the truth on, because it hurts the deepest still. Myself and Dermot went through a separation last year. We were seventeen years together and it was hard, crushing and every other horrible feeling I can think of when you go through something this big in your life. My loses in the Cage aren’t directly because of it but again it was another ripple in my fight life.
    I want people to understand sometimes the person you see in the Cage has the same problems in life as many others and more importantly I’m human too and not the hero you thing that is on the screen. I guess I’ve always had a good Poker Face but some of the hardest shots I’ve taken were always outside the Cage.
    Myself and Dermot had our toughest year but not once did his belief in me change. We will always care for each other and run our gym together. We have a friendship that’s unbreakable  and together we are going to walk straight through the storm. He is my guardian always next to me when I need him the most.


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