Today is World Cancer Day. A day that many people can relate to, whether they have been directly or indirectly affected by this awful and heart-breaking disease.
On Thursday 21st November 2019, my family became directly affected by cancer with the news that mummy had breast cancer. She had two lumps, one 1.7cm and the other 0.4mm, as well as cancer cells in the lymph nodes.
This was a huge shock to us all, as it is to any family, but even more so because mummy is an active person – going to the gym three times a week, never drank, doesn’t smoke and eats relatively healthy (apart from the occasionally “treat” that appears in the cupboard most weekends when I return home?!).
Mummy had no symptoms at all and felt great, even after she had been diagnosed. That’s the scary thing about cancer. The diagnosis only showed up following a routine breast screening, which women are advised to go for every three years.
In the time following mummy’s diagnosis, I found it difficult thinking about anything else. For me, it felt as if my whole world had been turned upside down, it was difficult seeing anything beyond the week, month or year ahead. It really makes you think about the things you take for granted every day. And whilst it’s not a nice journey, at all, there are positives that can be taken from it.
The one thing that has been constant throughout this experience is mummy’s optimism, positivity and bravery. Diagnosed on the Thursday, she was back into work on Friday, working right up, with the exception of hospital appointments, to the week before her operation, which was on 30th December. If we were in any doubt about mummy’s ability to be Superwoman, it was definitely confirmed throughout this bump in the road.
And whilst there were lots of tears, there was also lots of support and reassurance from our family and friends who we knew were there, as and when we needed them. In situations like this, the good hearts of people really shine through and we were blinded with the support received for mummy.
One thing I also have to say is the support and advice that mummy received from the nurses and doctors in Craigavon Area Hospital was second to none. They were brilliant throughout and could not be faulted.
Coincidentally, today on World Cancer Day, we received that news that mummy does not need any further treatment, no radiotherapy or chemotherapy and we feel very grateful.
This is of course the best news that we could have hoped and what my family has been praying for but I’m under no illusion, I know not every family is as lucky.
The theme of this year’s World Cancer Day is ‘I am and I will’ – all about you and your commitment to act. With this is mind, I am making a commitment to check my breasts every month, make and attend my smear test appointments and I’ve also made a donation to two charities, Marie Curie Cancer Care, a charity that mummy volunteers with, which does brilliant work for families affected by Cancer, and Cancer Fund for Children.
I urge you too to make the necessary commitments, whether it’s monthly breast or prostate checks, smear tests, routine breast screenings or mammograms or simply taking action and seeing your doctor if something doesn’t feel right.
To anyone currently going through the Cancer journey, my thoughts and positivity are with you and your family. I hope you find the strength to endure the tough times and fully enjoy the good times when they come.