On a cold weekend morning in February 2018, Una Doyle awoke early and went down to her kitchen. As she was waiting for her kettle to boil, she ran her hands across her chest to stay warm. However, as she did this she felt a lump on her breast.
Una had a mammogram two years earlier and had no other symptoms but still wanted to get checked out. When Monday morning came around, she went to see her GP and was referred on for a triple assessment.
Una was called back to receive her results “In the time since my assessment, I had gone to a wedding, stayed up singing and dancing. Not in a million years did I think I would be told I had cancer.”
Una recalls hearing the news of her breast cancer diagnosis “Initially, I was in complete shock. Then I just cried and cried. I cried in the hospital room itself, the toilets, the car park and even in the coffee shop on the way home.
I really think I experienced so many emotions taking it all in. There was sadness but also anger. My son was doing his Leaving Cert at the time, so I worried how he would get through the exams with everything going on.” She says.
Una says she felt a little better once she knew she had a treatment plan “My breast cancer type was invasive ductal carcinoma, it had also spread to my lymph nodes. My treatment plan included eight sessions of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and lymphnode removal, followed by radiation.
“I was definitely tired but overall I didn’t experience a huge amount of sickness, thankfully. I wanted to try look and feel as well as I could. I remember putting on my head scarf in the morning, my make-up and my earrings and heading out to the coffee shops with anyone who would go with me.”
Una is passionate about singing and was part of the Sea of Change Choir for over a year and a half. She is also part of a large choir named CORus for seven years. “I have always loved singing. CORus would normally hold a large performance in the Helix each year, I remember this year in particular, the performance fell in the middle of my chemotherapy sessions.
Typically I would be out at the front of the stage. When the time came around again however, I felt a level of hesitancy about it all. In the end I decided to just put my wig on and go out and perform. That was terrific for my confidence.” Una recalls.
Una is now doing much better and wants to use her experience to help others “My dad recently passed away and then in April 2022, my sister Miriam was diagnosed with breast cancer also. It was very tough for our family but I felt I could be useful, that I can share my experience and learnings with her.
"“I would say to anyone starting out after being diagnosed, to keep your routine as normal as you can."
“I would say to anyone starting out after being diagnosed, to keep your routine as normal as you can. Also, take all the help that is offered, dinners, housework, whatever it may be. People want to help, so accept graciously even if you are feeling well. Also do try get out and about as soon as you can between sessions, it will help.”
Put on your wig or scarf, a bit of makeup and go meet friends and family. Have a couple of boxsets for days that you have low energy levels, but get out when you pick up again.” Una is delighted to be supporting the Irish Cancer Society's Care For Your Pair campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To learn more about the campaign, visit: cancer.ie/careforyourpair #CareForYourPair
Host a Big Pink Breakfast
Host a Big Pink Breakfast this October to support breast cancer patients and their families across Ireland.
Find out more at: Cancer.ie/CareForYourPair