Trina Cleary from Co. Wexford was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2018 aged 34.
The mum-of-one went through her initial treatment, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy and a mastectomy. Thankfully, the treatment worked and she learned she was cancer free in June 2019.
Trina was delighted to be getting back to her normal life as a mum, she returned to her busy life of work and daily exercise. However, she began developing leg and neck pain, and in August 2020 she received the devastating news that her cancer had returned, having spread to her spine and hip and was now stage 4 and incurable.
Since receiving her secondary diagnosis Trina has had a preventative hip replacement in May 2020 and undergone further radiotherapy and targeted chemotherapy.
She says that going through treatment during the pandemic has been extremely tough
“Going to appointments and through surgery alone is unnerving and really hard. It’s also been tough not being able to pop down to my sister or go out for a coffee. I really miss the lack of social support, simple things like hugging a friend or family member”.
Taking part in the Irish Cancer Society’s campaign has meant so much to Trina. She believes it’s incredibly important to show the true impact of a cancer diagnosis for a number of reasons.
You hear of someone who has a stage 4 diagnosis- you assume they are frail and sick and life stops. I wanted to show that my life hasn’t stopped. I’m still trying to live my best life while I’m here.
"I’m staying positive, making memories. I want people to know that my life isn’t over, and I hope that will be portrayed in the campaign," she says.
Trina is proud of her mastectomy and is an advocate for body positivity during and beyond a cancer diagnosis
“I show my mastectomy scars with pride. Many people think that breast cancer won’t touch them- that it’s an older persons disease- but I want to ensure young women can see that it can happen and for them to be aware and check themselves”.
She concludes by saying, “I show my scars, because I think they are beautiful. If I can instill that in someone else who has been through cancer- don’t resent your scar, it is your badge of honour to show that you have been through something and come out the other end. Your scar is beautiful and so are you”.
The Irish Cancer Society Support Line is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm for support and advice on any cancer related issue.