Sarah Donovan

Sarah Donovan

‘I was so nervous to tell my mam I had breast cancer. I’m 37, and I knew that it would turn her world upside down.’

Sarah Donovan was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2019.

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“When I walked into the room my mam was just sitting with a cup of tea.And when I said the words out loud – Mam, I have breast cancer – she started shaking and crying. She called for my dad. He looked broken. He actually refused to believe it for a while. He thought I was too young and healthy. But breast cancer can affect anyone. In Ireland, nine people receive the diagnosis every day.”

sarah donovan family

Sarah was very breast aware before her diagnosis, and checked herself regularly. When she discovered a significant lump in her breast, she made an appointment straight away and had a test.

“I went to the hospital for the results and heard the sentence that changed my life: ‘You have breast cancer’.  The lovely nurse gave me booklets and information from the Irish Cancer Society. They were absolutely brilliant – just what I needed in that moment – I read them cover to cover,” she said. 

After finding out that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, Sarah started 15 rounds of chemo in June 2019. 

‘In the beginning I had an allergic reaction to one of my medications – I couldn’t walk, couldn’t even string a sentence together. For me that was a real low point. I was facing the hard truth that I was seriously ill. I just thought, I can’t do this. I was so grateful that the Irish Cancer Society was always there for me. I wasn’t even fully aware of all their services – they do so much.' 

After a double mastectomy, fifteen rounds of chemotherapy and fifteen rounds of radiotherapy, Sarah is now cancer-free.

Genetic testing has shown that Sarah carries the BRCA 2 gene, meaning she is at very high risk for breast and ovarian cancer, so she made the difficult decision to get her ovaries removed, a surgery she underwent during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sarah is grateful for the assistance which she received from the Irish Cancer Society’s Support Line.

‘It was so different than talking to a family member because I didn’t have to try to protect anybody. I could get the information I needed. I could share my fears. I could be vulnerable.' 

Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line

If you or someone in your life is undergoing cancer treatment and are concerned about the coronavirus, 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