In January 2020 Mags Shelton was on a weekend away when she happened to notice a lump on her breast. Mags says she never performed any self-examinations, but when she noticed the lump she was in complete shock.
The Kildare local called her GP the next morning and had an appointment for lunchtime the next day “I knew something was wrong, the lump was firm and quite obvious.”
Mags was given a referral letter and went to Beaumont Hospital for a mammogram and an ultrasound, later being called back for a biopsy.
On February 10th, Mags, originally from Scotland, was diagnosed with HER2+ and ER+ breast cancer “I had a 4cm tumour, the consultant referred to it as an abnormality, my partner knew that this meant cancer but it didn’t initially hit me what was happening. Then he started discussing chemotherapy and surgery and that is when I realised it was cancer. I went straight into problem solving mode, straight away I asked what the next steps for my treatment were.”
“It was always something we wanted to do but always put it on the long finger. "
Luckily the cancer hadn’t spread to Mags’ lymph nodes and her treatment plan included twelve weekly sessions of chemotherapy and Herceptin infusions. She also underwent a mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction in July. Unfortunately when Mags received her pathology results following surgery it was discovered that she had residual cancer cells. She was then booked in for fourteen more sessions of chemotherapy.
“I had long blonde hair, I always wanted to cut my hair but I never really had the courage to actually do it. When I started losing my hair during the chemotherapy, I decided to shave it all off, when it did eventually grow back it was dark and curly. I looked at it as a positive as it gave me an opportunity to embrace my new look.” She says.
Mags states she found the treatment difficult, experiencing “pretty much every side effect possible”. Despite this, during her treatment, Mags and her partner of eighteen years Jason decided to get married “It was always something we wanted to do but always put it on the long finger. Then when I was diagnosed it made us both realise that life is just too short so we decided to just go for it. We had to postpone twice due to Covid-19 but eventually in April 2021 we were married with six guests present.”
Mags has finished her chemotherapy and had her last surgery regarding some revisions to her stomach and breast at the end of 2021 “I have had some side effects from the chemotherapy and the medication which has prevented me from going back to work full time. So I feel like I am not back to normality just yet. I think some people think since I have finished chemotherapy, I must be okay, but I am still not feeling great if I am honest. My bones ache and I struggle with fatigue.”
Mags is delighted to be supporting Daffodil Day 2022 and actively encourages others to be aware of their own bodies “Being young doesn’t mean you will never get cancer, it is so important to self-check every month. If you find something, don’t be afraid and don’t put it off. I think my fast acting really did save my life.”
Cancer takes so much from so many, this Daffodil Day we are taking back from cancer so that one day cancer can take no more.
You make that happen.
Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line
If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.
Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm
For more information