Dublin-born Ann Eble was 48 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in 2003. She recalls the feeling that something wasn’t quite right, but she put it down to work related issues. In speaking to work colleagues about her fatigue at the time, she recalls joining in the general feeling that everyone was busy and often tired – and so she feels she didn’t recognise some of the red flags. But, looking back today, she believes she left it too long to go to her GP.
Having been referred to the Breast Clinic by her GP, Ann was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. “It all happened very quickly” she recalls, “I had to have a mammogram, ultrasound and then a biopsy. I was told I had a 5cm tumour and they had to operate”. Ann remembers looking to her breast surgeon, Professor Arnie Hill for reassurance and recalls him saying, “Ann you will be fine. I promise I will look after you”, and from that day to this, nineteen years on, Prof Hill is still there for Ann. “I have put my faith in that man” she says.
Ann had a mastectomy, six months of chemotherapy and 36 sessions of radio therapy. The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and so she had to have all her lymph nodes on her right side removed.
For ten years Ann was cancer free while she was taking a new drug, but three years after finishing the drug she began to feel unwell. This time she didn’t hesitate and immediately raised her concerns with Prof Hill. Ann was diagnosed with a different subtype of breast cancer and once again had her surgery with Prof Hill. However, she believes that because she acted so promptly she did not need to have her lymph nodes removed.
Ann is determined to support the research and education efforts of Breast Cancer Ireland. She is passionate about investment into research and early detection which will keep women like her alive. “Our bodies tell us when something is wrong. We need to listen to ourselves and be on alert. That is not to say we should self-diagnose but rather we need to know what is normal and act immediately of we spot an abnormality”.
Inevitably, breast cancer has changed the way Ann looks at life. She has always tried to stay positive and focused. The advice she says she would give to women who are recently diagnosed is “get your mind right, trust the experts and focus on the improved survival rates, the new treatments, and drugs available. It is a battle that can be won and together we can do it. Timing is everything”.
Ann is a Breast Cancer Ireland Ambassador. Over the past 19 years she has been a stellar fundraiser, getting involved in several of the charity’s campaigns and raising thousands for research into the disease.