Try as she might, Gina Boote struggled to work out just what was causing a niggling back problem two years ago.

It got so bad at one point that she remembers collapsing from the pain she was feeling: “I had gone to the emergency department a number of times, and they told me I needed an MRI to see what’s going on,” says the mum-of-two from Clifden.

Gina had been leading a very busy life at that point, running a dog kennel from home on top of her job in a bank.

She could never have expected that things would change so suddenly and drastically:

“It got to the point where I was in so much pain, I had collapsed and I physically couldn’t hold myself up. I went in fully expecting to be told that I had a slipped disc or something like that, and then I was told that they had found tumours on the spine.”

The cause of the tumours became known soon after: she was told that she had stage four breast cancer that had spread to her spine, ribs and other parts of her body.

“My doctor was really upbeat, he told me it was stage four and it was incurable, but what that many people live with it at stage four for a very long time as a chronic illness,” adds Gina, who recalls the contrast of her life before her diagnosis in February 2020, and life after.

“We had to close the kennel business because I wasn’t well enough to even think about doing it, and I had to stop work. Then it went into lockdown so it changed from one extreme to another very quickly.”

In time she was able to reflect on the greater time spent with her family during lockdown as a positive, despite the difficulty of balancing her own risk with the natural desires of her children to want to see others.

“Within the first six to eight months of being diagnosed I found it very difficult mentally to come to terms with. It was coming to terms with the diagnosis, but also with the loss of my previous life. I felt all my hopes, dreams and aspirations had been taken away in an instant.

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I reached out for counselling and I received it for three months, provided by the Irish Cancer Society. I got in touch and they put me in touch with a counsellor who I spoke to once a week, and as I was starting to feel better it became less frequent until I reached a point where I felt I didn’t need it any longer.

“She told me that if I ever needed it again the Irish Cancer Society would be there to provide that help so that I could speak to somebody about how I was feeling, and that was very useful,” says Gina, who feels she has now “turned a corner” and is embracing her new reality to the fullest extent possible.

“If you’re worried about anything you’re better to find out as soon as possible, because the earlier you do the better your outcome will be.”

Daffodil Day 2022

Cancer takes so much from so many, this Daffodil Day we are taking back from cancer.

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

Roz, Cancer Nurseline

For more information

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1800 200 700

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