Cork woman told she would never have children celebrates baby joy and clean bill of health 3 years after shock cancer diagnosis

Cork woman told she would never have children celebrates baby joy and clean bill of health 3 years after shock cancer diagnosis

Nuala O' Brien celebrating three years cancer-free with her son, Shay.

A CORK woman is marking three years of being cancer-free with a new baby and a fundraiser for the charity that was her “safe place” while she was sick.

Nuala O’Brien was just 23 when she “by chance” discovered that she had cancer after a fall on a night out.

The Glanworth native cut her hand went to A&E where a student staff member she got chatting to asked if she could practice conducting a chest X-ray.

The X-ray would reveal that 23-year-old Nuala had Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Diagnosed with stage 2 cancer, Nuala was told that if it had not been detected when it was, she may not have lived to see her birthday which was just six months away.

“They said that because I had no symptoms and how fast it was growing, I probably wouldn’t have seen my birthday in the April, so I was lucky I fell when I did,” she said.

When she was first diagnosed, her family had been persuading her to attend the Cork Cancer Care Centre, but she had been reluctant.

However, after a relapse, she decided to try it out and it quickly became her “safe place”.

“I was only 23 when I first got diagnosed and I didn’t know anybody else that had cancer,” she said.

Nuala O' Brien celebrating three years cancer-free with her son, Shay.
Nuala O' Brien celebrating three years cancer-free with her son, Shay.

“When I was out in public and I was out with other people, I was the only sick person and it was really obvious that I was sick and people would give you a look and people are always asking how you are getting on whereas when you get into the centre, everyone is like that and no one talks about being sick.” 

The Cork Cancer Care Centre was founded in 2011 and acts as a “home away from home” for those who have touched by cancer, with a number of supports for families and individuals.

“It was kind of like a safe place that you could go and be normal and not have everyone feel sorry for you,” she added.

During her treatment, Nuala had experienced menopause at just 24-years of age.

“I was told I would never have kids and I was put straight on hormone replacement therapy patches just to help with the side effects of menopause….and then I just kind of accepted that I could never have kids.” 

However, shortly after celebrating her second year of being cancer-free, she discovered that she was pregnant with baby Shay.

Each Valentine’s Day, Nuala marks her anniversary of being cancer-free by raising money for the centre and this year, she celebrated the three-year mark alongside her seven-month-old son, Shay.

Over the past number of years, she has experienced a lot of unexpected changes in life, but her support for the Cork Cancer Care Centre will continue throughout the years of celebrating the important milestone.

“It’s a charity that I know forever will be really, really close to our hearts and that we will always be doing as much as we can for them because they have done so much for us.” Donations can be made on @togetherwearestandinguptocancer on Facebook or on corkcancercarecentre.ie.

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