Geraldine Dunphy from Lucan in Dublin was diagnosed with HER2 breast cancer in September 2018, when she discovered a lump one day after her 37th birthday.
“I don’t know what made me check my breasts that night, but I knew it didn’t feel right. I booked an appointment with my GP and was referred for a mammogram and an ultrasound, then a biopsy followed," she said.
Two weeks later she was diagnosed with cancer.
She said, “I couldn’t believe it, I was 37 at the time and didn’t have any family history of cancer. Everyone said to me you’re so young, but unfortunately cancer doesn’t discriminate”.
Geraldine’s treatment plan included a lumpectomy, 16 rounds of chemotherapy, and 20 radiotherapy sessions. She also underwent egg harvesting fertility treatment before her chemo began.
“If it turns out I can’t have children in the future at least I know that I have given myself every possible chance. When I received my diagnosis, my focus was on the cancer- Will I lose my hair? Will I lose my breast? The one thing that knocked me for six was my fertility, I had never really thought about things like that. Considering my options around fertility was another blow that I wasn’t expecting to cause so much emotional upset”.
Throughout her treatment she used the Irish Cancer Society website to find reliable information on her type of cancer. She also tells of how she found great support in the Irish Cancer Society Daffodil Centres.
“I called in for a chat or a cry. It was great just to talk, and they told me all about the services available and what to expect during my treatment," she said.
Whilst undergoing treatment, Geraldine wanted to support other breast cancer patients. The Irish Cancer Society’s ‘Cups Against Breast Cancer’ campaign was running, so she hosted a Rugby World Cup breakfast morning fundraiser in her home.
“We love rugby in our house. So we decided to have a breakfast morning and show the rugby in several rooms of the house. It was a great morning /day. Everyone enjoyed the food, the company, the rugby and the craic and the bonus was raising money for a great cause”.
Although Geraldine’s treatment finished up in December 2019, and she is now cancer free, she discovered another lump in June 2020. She encourages people to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and urges everyone to check their breasts regularly.
“I had another scare, and had to go through the process all over again, but thankfully it was all clear. It happened to me and could happen to anybody, if even one person checks themselves after hearing my story, I’ll be happy”.
The Irish Cancer Society Support Line is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm for support and advice on any cancer related issue.