A vomiting bug is what started this journey for me, I do not know how long I would have waited to question a change in my nipple to my GP, I’ve definitely learned that it is strange how the universe works.
On 23rd May 2019, I woke up knowing I had an appointment with the breast clinic due to having a “dimple” in my nipple, but I had not prepared for cancer. Fast forward to 2020, so much of what has happened seems like a dream.
As a single mum, with an incredible family, I jumped on a rollercoaster and the 7 months of cancer treatment seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye! Within the year I have undergone 2 lumpectomies of the same breast along with the removal of my right breast lymph nodes, 8 rounds of chemotherapy, shaved my head, lost my eyebrows and lashes, gained almost 2 stone, 20 rounds of radiotherapy and now on tamoxifen.
During treatment, I never googled anything about ‘my cancer’, but I did research the long-term side effects of treatment and the number one was, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Not something I would have associated with cancer and I soon realised that the treatment for cancer was in the hands of my medical team, but I needed to take myself on my own healing journey – not having a clue as to how I was going to do this.
My wonderful friend, Mandy Gabriel told me about Cork Cancer Care Centre and suggested that I give Linda a call. This woman is the true definition of a legend, she immediately put me at ease, arranged for me to have a counselling session with Jennifer Denise Malone (who in my words, is an angel on this earth), Linda also recommend touch therapies and took the time to introduce me with fellow warriors – I do love how warriors chat with one another, the openness, honesty and friendship is like no other. I have been saying ever since, “one step at a time, one day at a time, it’s ok to press reset when needed”.
During the past year, my daughter Abigail was 4 when I was diagnosed, she has graduated from Montessori, started primary school, home-schooling during #covid19, been the most incredible girl any mum could wish for. Settled into our new home. Learned how to ask for help, one of the biggest lessons that cancer has taught me – I have found that every so often cancer reminds me to slow down and let the universe look after what is meant to be for me during life’s journey. I started #100daysofwalking (still at it), lost weight and regained it (so, I simply press the reset button), started counselling with the amazing Jennifer Denise Malone through my safe haven, Cork Cancer Care Centre started mediation and pilates and loving both.
I started to document #100daysofwalking on twitter, the support of strangers was amazing and very humbling, although, I never felt comfortable with the word ‘inspiring’, I do not think any of us do when it comes to cancer. I decided to set up the Instagram account this_is_not_a_race_its_healing to document my healing journey, my place to be as honest as I need to be about the highs and lows of healing following treatment and to focusing on healing both physically and mentally. I recently realised that to grow, I need to change, and cancer has simply been the seed for change in my life.
I have had an incredible year, met some amazing people including my chemo bestie, Liz Muldoon who I met at my second chemo session, rocked the bald look (even if I do say so myself), discovered so much about myself and took the time to learn about family and friends.