Twenty-seven year old Oncology Nurse Marianne Walsh was going about her workday when she happened to feel a small lump just by her collarbone "It was about the size of a grape. That week I was getting my flu-vaccine, I asked a colleague her opinion. She asked was I experiencing any other symptoms like night sweats or weight loss.”
Marianne says she found an explanation for all her symptoms “I had been tired, but I put this down to the extra pressure at work due to the pandemic. I had lost some weight, but I had also been training five or six nights each week. I also experienced some night sweats, but I thought this was because I had forgotten to turn off my electric blanket at night a few times.
While having this conversation, I started to feel a terrible itch on my leg, I just couldn’t get rid of it. I decided that weekend to go to my GP and get myself checked out properly. I had a physical exam, my bloods taken and a chest x-ray.”
The next week Marianne was told that a mass had been found in her chest. She then had a CT scan followed by a biopsy. When her results came back, Marianne was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma.
Marianne recalls her reaction to hearing her diagnosis “Being an oncology nurse, it helped as I had a better idea of what was ahead of me. Before my treatment began I had lots of my plans already in place. I had an egg retrieval procedure completed in Dublin, I had my PICC line booked and I had my wig booked. I think this also helped reassure my family and friends.
Given where I work, I knew there were some tougher cancers I could be dealt with. Most people will find it strange that I say that, but given my profession, I guess I could see things slightly differently.”
Marianne was prescribed 6 months of ABVD chemotherapy. One treatment every two weeks for twelve sessions.
“The chemotherapy was absolutely horrific, the most difficult six months of my life. I suffered with nausea throughout the duration of treatment. I am such an active person. I play camogie and I go to the gym two or three times a week. Suddenly I could barely get up and down the stairs each day. It was a big eye opener. I am so grateful to my family, friends and colleagues who were such great supports for me throughout the experience.”” Marianne states.
" I play camogie and I go to the gym two or three times a week. Suddenly I could barely get up and down the stairs each day. "
Marianne has reaching out to The Solas Cancer Support Centre in Waterford which is supported by Irish Cancer Society funding “The services are so useful. People should use the support services that are available, that is what they are there for. The whole experience has opened up my eyes and made me more empathetic towards people. When someone is opening up and saying they are having a bad time, they really are.
I know that my cancer diagnosis will make me a better oncology nurse once I return to the hospital, I have now been on both sides of this experience.”
Since finishing her chemotherapy, Marianne has been able to get back on the pitch playing camogie, which she says has really helped her mental health. Only three weeks ago, Marianne and her team won their county final, Marianne says she is absolutely delighted to be back playing a sport she loves so much.
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
1800 200 700