Joanna Louise Twomey (48) is from Bandon, Co. Cork. A dental practice manager, Joanna was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2019.

Following her diagnosis, Joanna underwent a radical hysterectomy. Joanna was then offered the option of participating in a clinical trial combining two separate treatments to be taken in tandem – an already approved immunotherapy treatment alongside a new chemotherapy drug. Joanna says:

“I chose the clinical trial as my first line of treatment. I was really happy to get both the chemotherapy and the immunotherapy together. I got through the side effects OK. In fact, I thought they would be much worse. And at the end of the trial my cancer is stable. It has had a big impact in stabilising my original lesion and getting rid of the other ones. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in the trial and I will miss the team who supported me through it.”

When it comes to advice to others who might be considering pursuing a clinical trial, Joanna notes:

“I think it’s a very personal choice.

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I’m big on helping other people along the way in life and this was my way of paying back while getting treatment for myself.

I would advise reading all of the information and listening to the doctor’s ideas of treatment possibilities. Then weigh it all up. Bear in mind that trials will involve more examinations, blood tests and scans. You have to be able to manage the time all of that will take.”

Reflecting on the timing of her diagnosis, Joanna is grateful to COVID for the time it has afforded her and her family to be at home together: “The COVID-19 pandemic came at the right time for me and the lockdown was one of the best years of my life. My family were all home together, and we were able to process what cancer meant to all of us. It has brought myself and my husband closer together as we have supported each other through the cancer experience. I’ve slowed down more and am more mindful.

“After the initial trauma of the primary diagnosis and my secondary diagnosis, today I’m at peace with it. I know I have it but it’s not ruling my life or thoughts. It’s confirmed for me that I will never have enough time to experience life and be with my family. I will always want more. That’s being human I guess.”

Joanna is married to Mark and has one son and three daughters. She enjoys baking, crochet, sewing, painting and embroidery. Her dream is to one day learn how to spin fire poi!

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