Metastatic breast cancer patient Rhona Nally with her award

Recognising metastatic cancer patient advocate Rhona Nally

Today is Metastatic Breast Cancer Day, a day to raise awareness about the disease and acknowledge those people living with it, like Rhona. Rhona was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2004, after finishing treatment for primary breast cancer.

"I was getting back to normal life when I developed persistent back pain. I was then diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. My prognosis was poor and I was devastated. My world and that of my loved ones was completely turned upside down. I grieved for the perceived loss of my future, and the end of my hopes, dreams and aspirations.

"I started back on treatment, which now included weekly infusions of a new drug, Herceptin. It had recently been licensed for the treatment of metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer in Ireland. Thankfully, I had an excellent response to treatment. My first scans after treatment resumed showed a huge improvement, far better than was expected. I now attend hospital every three weeks for Herceptin infusion, and have regular scans. Fourteen years later I am well, and my cancer is in remission."

Today, Rhona volunteers with the Irish Cancer Society's Survivor Support Programme, talking to newly-diagnosed metastatic cancer patients on an ongoing basis in person and over the phone. She also advocates for people living with metastatic cancer and has been involved in many patient peer support groups, education programmes and research initiatives.

Early this month, Rhona was honoured by the Irish Cancer Society with the Charles Cully Award for her work in patient advocacy.

“I wanted to help people who were facing what I faced, because I know the reality and that includes an absence of psychological and financial support. I am honoured to accept this award, and I hope to continue my work with the Irish Cancer Society in supporting cancer patients at every stage of their journey.”