Róisín McEvoy from Walkinstown, Co. Dublin was twenty-eight years-old when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma in August 2019.
Her cancer diagnosis came after a year of symptoms, including: night sweats, shooting pain in her left arm, lower back and abdomen.
‘At first they thought the arm pain was a trapped nerve, so I was sent for physio. Then they thought the lower back and abdominal pain was a kidney infection, so that was treated by antibiotics. Eventually they ran some blood tests and my inflammation levels were through the roof’.
After a CT scan in April 2019 her GP rang and said "you probably have Hodgkin's Lymphoma which would mean you'll need chemotherapy but they need to run more tests".
"I found one of the hardest parts was to keep telling people bad news, I still find that tough years later."
Róisin remembers hearing those words “My parents and brother were in the room when I received the call, I was so shocked and upset, I broke down and had to hand the phone over.
I found one of the hardest parts was to keep telling people bad news, I still find that tough years later.
After a number of scans, biopsies, and spleen removal for biopsy, Róisín received the devastating news that she had cancer.
Roisin’s treatment began with chemotherapy, which finished up in March 2020, one week before the country went into lockdown.
“I got a clear scan halfway through treatment, so I thought I was done- I remember thinking ‘how lucky am I’ But then two weeks later I started getting symptoms again, and turns out I had relapsed during treatment. It was really hard to get that news, I didn’t expect to hear it. My nurse rang me on my 29th birthday to say it was back and that I had to start treatment the next day- that was hard to take in and to tell people again, a big part of my diagnosis has been trying to protect others.”
In October 2020, Roisin underwent a stem cell transplant using her own stem cells, but unfortunately the treatment failed and in January 2021 she was told that the cancer had spread to her hip.
“I really wasn’t expecting bad news from that scan, the consultant had thought my hip pain was arthritis- a side effect from the treatment.”
At the beginning of 2021 Róisín began immunotherapy treatment, this had positive results and doctors decided to give her some additional chemotherapy and another stem cell treatment, this time using her brother Ciilléin’s stem cells.
“All three of my siblings were tested but Cilléin was the only was a match. It was great not to go on a donor list to find a match, and Cilléin was delighted to be giving the donation. “
Róisín, who is now thirty is doing much better and had her 100 day PET scan in December 2021 and is in remission.
She is delighted to be supporting Daffodil Day 2022 and during her treatment, Roisin availed of the Irish Cancer Society Daffodil Centre in St. Vincents hospital. It was here that she learned of the ‘Look Good Feel Better’ programme, which offers free make up workshops to women going through cancer to help rebuild self-confidence and self-esteem.
“It was a really nice day, and nice to get some tips and meet others going through a similar experience. I lost my eyebrows with first chemo so I found it really helpful.”
Róisín has also used the counselling services through St. Vincent’s hospital and encourages anyone affected by cancer to avail of counselling to help deal with the emotional impact of a diagnosis "I 100% recommend counselling to anyone going through cancer, in fact I think everyone in general could benefit from a bit of counselling. It is so great to talk to someone not directly involved in your life, it means you’re not worried about their feelings, and can be honest about what’s going on and how you’re feeling. It’s a sounding board that’s just not in the situation with you.”
Róisíns advice to everyone is to ‘know your body and stresses the importance of early detection’.
“Please check yourself and if you’re not feeling yourself go and get bloods done, I never thought of checking my neck or my groin, I wasn’t going poking around- if I had I could have been diagnosed a lot sooner, and then maybe it wouldn’t have been stage 4.”
Róisín admits that although her cancer experience has been extremely challenging, she is incredibly grateful for the amazing support network she has through her medical team, family and friends
“The haematology nurses in St Vincent's and St James' hospitals have been a godsend, I couldn't have gotten through the last 2.5 years without their support. Cancer has really shown me how many supportive people I have in my life and who my true friends are. I have really good friendships and an incredible family.”
Cancer takes so much from so many, this Daffodil Day we are taking back from cancer so that one day cancer can take no more.
You make that happen.
Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line
If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.
Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm
For more information