Alannah Sheehan from Co. Tipperary was diagnosed with a high grade, incurable brain tumour aged 32, in February 2020.
The Mum of three had experienced headaches and dizziness on and off for a number of years, but after being hospitalised for a significant seizure, doctors discovered a large mass on her brain. She underwent a craniotomy (brain surgery whilst awake), which successfully removed 90 percent of the mass.
A number of weeks later, she received the devastating news that a biopsy taken confirmed she had high grade brain cancer.
She recalls hearing the devastating news over the phone and says, “I was waiting weeks for the call and had so many questions I wanted to ask, but when I heard the news, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t speak, I could barely see, I was crying so much. I just didn’t know what to do.”
Alannah’s doctors told her that if she underwent treatment, she would have a 50% chance of living for more than 2 years. Her initial treatment plan included 30 sessions of radiotherapy, followed by 6 months of chemotherapy. She says it was extremely tough to go through treatment during the pandemic.
“Because of covid, I couldn’t see family or friends. I just cried every single day. I just felt what is the point?”
However, she found great solace in the cancer community she met through the Instagram page she set up @worth_fighting4, documenting her cancer journey.
Alannah has recently finished her treatment and has frequent scans to monitor her tumour. At the moment she is really positive and enjoying spending time ‘making memories’ with her husband, Martin and three young children Phoebe, Luca and Finn.
During her treatment, Alannah availed of the Irish Cancer Society financial grant to help fund fuel costs to get to her treatment. She says it was a huge help to them.
As she reflects on the last 12 months, she says,
It has been a really tough year, covid has made it harder. I have probably seen two of my friends since I was diagnosed, but on the upside we have had so much time at home as a family and I am pretty happy 90 percent of the time.
“I’ll admit I struggle when my mind is racing, and the fear that I mightn’t be here for some things is enough to kill me, but I am hopeful and I fully believe I will be here in two years’ time”.
Alannah has some uplifting words of advice for anyone affected by cancer and says, “Although you may not be able to change your situation, you can change your way of thinking and there is always hope and light at the end of the tunnel”.
The Irish Cancer Society Support Line is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm for support and advice on any cancer related issue.