Mum of three, Sarah Flanagan from Hollystown in Dublin, was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive lobular breast cancer, aged 41.
She had no lumps or abnormalities, but knew that ‘something didn’t feel right’ in her right breast.
Whilst visiting her GP for a routine smear test, she mentioned her concerns. Her GP sent her for a triple assessment in the Mater Hospital.
Sarah tells of the ‘complete disbelief and shock’ she felt when she received the news that she had breast cancer.
“There had never been any cancer in my family. I was only 41. I remember thinking… you’re not supposed to have cancer at 41," she said.
Her treatment include a mastectomy, lymph node removal, chemotherapy and radiation. Unfortunately, during her chemotherapy she developed blood clots on her lungs, which deferred her treatment plan for some time.
Once Sarah knew she would have to go through chemo she began to cut her hair gradually shorter, as it was her way of ‘gaining some control of the situation’. She never wore a wig during her cancer journey, and says,“I thought putting a wig on would hide the fact that I had cancer and that wouldn't have been beneficial for me, so I didn’t cover up my bald head”.
Throughout her cancer journey, Sarah got great comfort, support and advice from the Irish Cancer Society Daffodil Centre in the Mater hospital, and loved the ‘Look Good Feel Better’ service.
Sarah finished her treatment in December 2017, has now recovered and is doing well. She is incredibly positive about her experience with cancer. Although she struggled with anxiety post illness, she says “I think you have to find the good in every situation… Yes, I’m not the same person I was before my cancer diagnosis, but the friends I met along the way have been amazing, we’re still in touch. I always spoke with other cancer patients and supported them throughout their journeys and that has been so cathartic for me”.
The Irish Cancer Society Support Line is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm for support and advice on any cancer related issue.