"My cancer journey didn’t start with my own diagnosis. It started before I married my husband and we had our 4 precious children with my mother’s terminal diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2000. She died in January 2002 when I was five months pregnant with Cliodhna, my first child and her first grandchild. We walked with my Mum through her journey, her hair loss, her nausea, her fear. Then in July 2017, my older sister knocked us all for six with her breast cancer diagnosis. She had found a lump weeks earlier and been referred for a biopsy. Suddenly we were all back in the cancer space. She told me to get a mammogram and as she’s my ‘big sister’ I did what I was told.

In September 2017, I went for a mammogram and ultrasound. At our first meeting with the breast surgeon we were shocked with a diagnosis of DCIS (Stage Zero). However, after another procedure, the diagnosis changed to Invasive Lobular Cancer Stage 2 Grade 1.  As the surgeon couldn’t get a clear margin at later surgeries my breast was removed and I had a direct to implant reconstruction. I hoped that this was the end of the road and that I might get to bypass chemo. On the 30th January 2018, I met with the oncologist for the first time. Pathology had found more cancer in the removed breast and I was advised to have 16 rounds of chemotherapy and later 28 rounds of radiation.

In Easter 2018 we hit a tsunami.  My husband got a chest infection. Post the Easter holidays, and after my first round of Taxol, I felt really ill. I was admitted to hospital and didn’t get home for 22 days. My diagnosis and prognosis was uncertain. I was ultimately diagnosed with double pneumonia and prescribed multiple antibiotics. It was a very uncertain time for me and for my family.

That is where ARC first stepped in. I had visited ARC at the start of the journey but didn’t access their services until after that hospital. It was a warm and caring space manned by kind energetic volunteers. They provided care, support and counselling for me and my family (and for my sister and her family too).

Many years ago I and several friends went along to support the ARC fashion show. Little did I know that some years later I would be walking through ARC’s door to access their services and later take to the cat walk in the annual ARC fashion show. I am incredibly grateful to ARC for their care and kindness."