“It felt like everything was coming at me at the one time – it was incredibly overwhelming.”
In December 2020, Anne-Marie McCutcheon noticed a dimple in her breast during a morning shower. After further examination, she discovered there was also a lump present. Anne Marie acted quickly and within half an hour had phoned her GP and insisted on an appointment for the following morning.
Anne-Marie’s GP referred her on to St James Hospital for early January “I knew in my gut it was cancer. The lump was so large, I just thought what else could it be? However over Christmas my partner, I and my children all contracted Covid-19, so the original appointment had to be pushed back.”
“When I went in to the Hospital on the new date I was examined by the consultant, had a mammogram, ultrasound and a biopsy. Five days later I was told it was triple positive breast cancer. It was a 5cm tumour which had spread to my lymph nodes. At the time my mother had to be hospitalized with Covid-19 and was put on a ventilator. It felt like everything was coming at me at the one time – it was incredibly overwhelming.” She says.
Anne-Marie recalls her initial reaction to the diagnosis “I was terrified. I immediately thought of my children and if I was going to be around for them. My children were four and one when I was diagnosed. My father, uncle and aunt all died of cancer. Then when I heard the diagnosis, I just thought the worst.
I used the Irish Cancer Society website and leaflets to learn about my diagnosis and treatment I found the information extremely helpful - very clear and concise.”
Anne-Marie’s treatment plan included 16 rounds of chemotherapy, a mastectomy and she will be starting radiation in November. After this she will begin Herceptin infusions and hormone therapy.
Going through treatment during the pandemic posed some challenges for Anne-Marie “My partner Ray has been incredible through the whole process however he was only allowed into the appointment for me results with the oncologist. I went through my tests, surgery, scans and chemotherapy by myself.
I am an independent person and I generally like to do things by myself. At the same time, at the beginning of the process, you want someone there with you. You just don’t know what to expect.
Four days before my surgery, I hit a low point. The musician Sarah Harding had just died. That was very difficult for me as she was the same age as me.”
Four days before my surgery, I hit a low point. The musician Sarah Harding had just died. That was very difficult for me as she was the same age as me.
Anne-Marie is doing much better now and as she continues with her treatment, she has some learnings from her experience “My cancer diagnosis has shown me how much good there is people. So many people that I would never expect reached out to say they were thinking of me. Then others dropped in small gifts or some food. That really helped on those harder days.”
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