Sarah Gleeson

Sarah Gleeson

‘Be kinder to yourself’

A teacher from Galway who was diagnosed with breast cancer has urged others to “be kinder to themselves”.

Sarah Gleeson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 after finding a small lump on her breast. Following her diagnosis, Sarah underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation and is now cancer-free.

quotations Created with Sketch.

“It was an unbelievable time and a million thoughts were rushing through my mind. At the time of the diagnosis I was worried not only about myself but also about my family, friends and my job. There were good days and bad days, but one of the hardest things was not being able to go into work and interact with the students.”

Sarah said she also found losing her hair following her cancer treatment very challenging.

“I remember my hair coming out in large chunks in the shower and that was very hard to process. I always had long hair so I decided to donate it to the Little Princess Trust which provides wigs for children who need them, so at least some positive came from it.

“I was never a vain person, but all of a sudden I didn’t have any hair and I gained weight from the treatment. It was very hard, not only going through the treatment, but also not feeling and looking like yourself.”

Looking back on her cancer journey, Sarah says that she wishes she had been kinder to herself and worried less about her appearance.

quotations Created with Sketch.

“Everyone goes through cancer differently, but I was so self-conscious. I had little hats and wigs and I wish now I hadn’t been so worried about how I looked. It’s a very emotional time, so if I could give any advice it would be to be kinder to yourself and eat what you want, or do what you want. Be kinder to yourself."

Sarah Gleeson

“It was a very difficult time in my life and in the lives of my family and friends but thankfully it is now five years since my diagnosis and I’m fighting fit. I get regular check-ups and remain vigilant.”

Sarah also urged others to seek out the support around them.

“I am so grateful for the support that I received from my family, friends and workplace as well as from the Daffodil Centre at University Hospital Galway and Cancer Care West. The cancer services are absolutely phenomenal and I really valued being able to go and do some yoga or have tea and the chats with the people at the centre. I would urge anyone who is going through cancer to seek out those supports because they really are wonderful.”

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