Susan Mullan is on the road to recovery after being diagnosed with breast cancer last March and today, on Daffodil Day which raises funds for the Irish Cancer Society (ICS), she spoke about her experience.
Susan, 54, was lucky to catch the disease as she had no symptoms and the cancer was spotted during a routine mammogram.
“I went for my normal two-year mammogram and they spotted an irregularity. At the start, they said it was just a small lump and a lumpectomy would sort it, but when I went for an MRI then it turned out to be a three-inch tumour.
Susan had a mastectomy and then had four months of chemotherapy and two months of radiotherapy which finished Christmas week 2017.
“I am still dealing with the tiredness and getting my head together after the whole thing.”
Susan, who is from Turners Cross, said she wanted to get across to people the importance of going for a checkup and also wanted to remind people that you don’t have to have symptoms.
“I felt no lumps, I felt nothing because the tumour was behind the nipple going to the chest wall, so it wasn’t seen. I had no pain, no symptoms. It can happen to anybody out of the blue.”
“If I hadn’t gone that time for my mammogram or if I had even put it off for a year, it would be a totally different story, I would be in big trouble.”
Susan said that the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) services were extremely helpful from start to finish when she was going through treatment.
“The first thing I did was look on their website looking for information and support. I mean family and friends are fantastic, but you need that extra support and you need support outside of the family and you need information.
The website is fantastic, the information is so detailed and the Daffodil centre in the hospital is brilliant. If you are having a bad day, just walk in the door and if you want to have a cry they are there.
Susan also availed of counselling through ICS. “It was extremely helpful. Going through it your family are going through it with you. You don’t want to be putting any extra pressure on them, you don’t want to be falling to pieces in front of them when you are having a bad day and it is great to be able to go in and get the tears out and let the feelings out and not put extra pressure on your family.
“Plus it helps to talk to someone who had been through the experience before you and who can say, oh yeah, that happened to me or I felt that way.
“You need someone to say that it is okay to feel that way.” Speaking about dealing with the chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Susan said she was lucky that the main symptom she had to deal with was tiredness. “I wasn’t physically sick and I didn’t feel nausea.”
Susan said she would be hit with waves of tiredness where she felt she couldn’t take another step or she would keel over. Susan also lost her hair during treatment.
Susan said the most important thing was to listen to her body and do what it was telling her to do. “If it was telling you to lay down and go to sleep, do it. There is no point fighting it.” Susan has no applied to become a volunteer with the ICS to be able to give back some of the help she got.
“I would love to help out in any way I can.”
The cancer survivor said the experience has definitely given her a new approach to life.
“It does make you think about life differently. It makes you think life is so precious and life is to be lived. Make the most of every day and do stuff that you want to do, that makes you passionate.”
According to ICS, 365 people were diagnosed with breast cancer in Cork last year. The Daffodil Centres based in Bon Secours Hospital and Cork University Hospital Cork supported 6,224 members of the public during 2017.
The service, available in 13 hospitals around the country, allows people affected by cancer to speak directly to a Cancer Nurse and to avail of information about cancer The Society funded counselling sessions for 81 people from Cork to help them cope with a cancer diagnosis in their life.
Daffodil Day, proudly supported by Boots Ireland, takes place today, Friday 23 March, and raises crucial funds to support cancer patients and their families. Your support saves lives.
Buy a daffodil from your local volunteer, donate now at www.cancer.ie/daffodilday or text ‘Daff’ to 50300 to donate €4. Text costs €4. Irish Cancer Society will receive a minimum of €3.60. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 076 6805278.