No one else is going to rear my children
I try to remain positive but sometimes it can be very hard, writes SIOBHAN FARRAGHER
IN MAY 2009, we were on holiday in Portugal and I was putting sun cream on when I felt a hard lump in my right breast. I wasn’t worried about it initially as I had had lumps removed before and they were always benign.
To be on the safe side, I decided to have it checked out when we returned home.
My GP thought it might be the result of hormonal activity as I had recently had a hysterectomy but she referred me to a breast surgeon who did a needle test and said I probably wouldn’t hear anything for six weeks as it was unlikely there was anything to worry about.
But the following day I got a call asking me to come in for a biopsy and I began to get a bit scared.
My worst fears were realised when results showed cancerous cells in my breast and in the lymph nodes under my arm. It was very upsetting but I knew I just had to get on with it and get treatment started as quickly as possible.
I was diagnosed with Her 2 Positive cancer and had to have a partial mastectomy and removal of the lymph nodes.
I was only 36, had never smoked and was generally healthy. Even my surgeon was perplexed by the diagnosis, particularly as nine out of my 14 nodes were cancerous.
After the surgery, I began chemotherapy which was quite gruelling.
Soon afterwards I developed a cough so I had a Cat scan to see if anything was amiss anywhere else.
I wasn’t expecting them to find anything but the scan revealed a scratch on my left lung which doctors put down to childhood chicken pox.
However, my oncologist, Dr Macon Keane, didn’t believe that was all it was and kept pushing for more investigations. Eventually, he insisted on a lung biopsy which was very invasive and took four hours, but when they got deep into the tissue, more Her 2 cells were found.
This was November 2009 and I had to have more chemotherapy which lasted until March 2010. Once that was over, we went on holiday again to Portugal which was great as we were all glad to be away from hospitals for a while.
But in September 2010, I had a routine scan and discovered, to my horror, that the cancer cells were active again. Surgery wasn’t an option so I went back on chemo again until March 2011, when I was given the all-clear again.
Then a month later I came home from the shops and couldn’t remember having been out. When I went in for my next check-up, I mentioned it to the nurse as I thought it could have been a reaction to the medication I was on.
But when she told Dr Keane he said he wanted to send me for a brain scan. This was completely unexpected as I never imagined there would be a problem with my brain.
But unfortunately the cancer had spread and the reason I had been feeling strange and forgetting things was because cells had developed in my brain.
Three cells showed up initially but when I went to the Beacon in Dublin, they discovered I actually had six.
It was my birthday when I heard that news and I was completely devastated but I knew there was nothing I could do but carry on fighting.