Metastatic cancer patient Cathy Lynch and her family

The Real Cost of Cancer: Cathy's story

Cathy Lynch, 56 from Co Offaly, was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2005. Her husband John had just set up a new business and life was busy with her three boys who were aged 11, 8 and 6 at the time.

Cathy went on to have surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy at St. James’s Hospital Dublin and she worked very hard to try and keep life as normal as possible during this time. The boys were her priority.

She was very conscious that they didn’t miss out on anything because she was sick. Money was tight but they did the best with what they had and were lucky to have the support of family and a close circle of friends.

In April 2016, after 11 years of regular scans and appointments, Cathy noticed an unusual pain in her side. Her very diligent GP, Dr Scanlon, referred her for a scan and the news came that Cathy had developed secondary breast cancer in her liver and bones. This came as a huge blow.

Since then, Cathy is a regular visitor to St James’s Hospital for monthly injections and scans. She is lucky that her family are in Dublin so she has a place to stay during appointments which eases the financial burden.

She has a medical card and private health insurance which has helped with the additional costs. She continues to work in her husband’s business, managing the accounts and one day a week as a receptionist in a local doctor’s surgery. She would like to do more however and worries about what is coming down the line.

Her sons Sean, Conor and Liam are grown boys now and she is looking forwards to celebrating Sean’s wedding next April.

“Throughout my initial diagnosis and treatment, I worked with my husband's business-situated at home on the accounts as we couldn't afford to employ any staff. As the business got busier, I continued to work, whatever hours suited me as long as the work was done!

“My appointments in St James's since my secondary diagnosis were initially monthly. Now scans are three monthly and I see my oncologist every 2 months for bloods, review and I get a bone Infusion to strengthen my bones. Thank God this treatment is working for me at the moment.

“I work a few days for my husband, and one day a week as Medical Receptionist and cover holidays in the Surgery. This is as much work as I can manage at the moment.

“Two of our sons are in college, Liam is in University of Limerick and Conor is in Notre Dame, Indiana, USA. My eldest son, Sean, is getting married next April.

“We have always lived within our means, however, my diagnosis has added considerable pressure to our financial situation. And I know that if I was in a position to work full time, out financial situation would have eased considerably.

“I'm delighted to be involved in the Real Cost of Cancer campaign as I know from personal experience the financial pressure, especially as my husband is self-employed.

“I try not to dwell on the future and live in the now, however, I'm human and my future health worries me.

“I attend my local cancer support centre. Recently, a course of reflexology has really benefitted me.

“My life is so much more than my cancer diagnosis. Sometimes, the reality of it all hits home and I panic.. temporarily!

"We have had serious mental health Issues within my immediate family and also my 87 year old dad has dementia. My 85 year old mother cares for him at home, with help from our family.

“I am strong and determined to make the most of my situation. Finances will always be a worry.”

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