Eimear’s story – ‘I have learned to appreciate every day I am here’
Eimear Cregg was a healthy 35-year-old primary school teacher who seldom ever had to take a sick day before an unexpected breast cancer diagnosis in 2018 changed the course of her life.
As often happens the news was a bolt out of the blue for Eimear who had no family history of breast cancer prior to discovering a small lump in her left breast, which she was told had caused spread to her lymph nodes.
Eimear has always loved her job, but at that time her primary concern was naturally to put her health first. She went through a year of treatment between 2018 and 2019, and she says the most important thing in her mind then was to get through it and start to feel better and live her life again.
“I was very distressed going through chemotherapy, I could see everyone else out living their lives as normal and I couldn’t participate in it. I kept telling myself this will be worth it when I get back to my normal life,” Eimear remembers of the time.
Only then did the realisation begin to dawn on the toll the experience had taken on her financially and professionally, as well as on her health.
“For my initial diagnosis I had to take a year off for treatment, so my sick leave was eradicated after six months.
Eimear was happy to be able to return to the job she loves in early 2019. She fondly remembers life getting back to normal: going on holidays again, meeting up with friends and having nights out.
While she appreciated regaining some normality there was always a niggling sense of anxiety for Eimear, and another unexpected and worrying development was to occur a year-and-a-half later.
Having started to feel unwell the previous month she was taken into hospital on Halloween night 2020, and within a space of hours she learned that the cancer had returned in a different part of her body.
She was told surgery would be needed later that week, but that her diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer was something she would have to live with and manage for the rest of her life.
Thankfully Eimear came through the procedure, but has unfortunately had some setbacks since then.
“I have lost a lot of independence. I would like to be able to travel alone and return to class teaching. I am in a lot of pain which makes day-to-day activities difficult.
“I plan fun activities and even if sometimes I have to cancel at least I am making the best out of things,” she says.
“I have had to give in and admit my severe fatigue. While it’s really hard and devastating that I won’t get to live out all my dreams and I think about all the family events I will miss in the future, each night I also think about the three things I am grateful for to help me not descend into feeling sorry for myself.
“I have kept sane by continuing to work remotely and keep in contact with work, and also researching my condition and possible trials has empowered me as I know I am trying the best I can to live as long as possible for my wonderful family and friends, and all who mean so much to me.”
Learn more about breast health and about how you can support breast cancer patients this October.
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