Teresa Costello

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Teresa Costello was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 36. The diagnosis, she says, was a complete shock to her, as well as to her family and friends. “I wasn’t breast aware and I didn’t check myself regularly – not at all, in fact. I found my lump by chance whilst having a shower. Taking into consideration my age, family history, fitness and lifestyle, my GP said he wasn’t overly concerned. However, as a precautionary measure, he referred me to St James’s Hospital, Dublin, where, upon examination, they found an additional two tumours.”

What followed, says Teresa, was a whirlwind. “I embarked on a treatment plan that comprised chemotherapy and surgery – a mastectomy and clearance of lymph nodes with immediate reconstruction – followed by additional reconstruction and radiotherapy.”

Having breast cancer was very traumatic not only for Teresa but also for her son and other family members. Thankfully, she is now back to full health. “My cancer was hormone-driven, and so I take a little tablet called Tamoxifen every day to help reduce my risk of a reoccurrence. Before breast cancer stormed into my life, I am sorry to say I didn’t take ownership of my own breast health. I was wrongly under the impression that breast cancer only happened to ladies in their late-50s and 60s.”

Being an Ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland is an honour for Teresa, she says. “Advances in research and new medication saved my life and continue to keep me cancer-free. I’m actively involved in the Education and Outreach programme provided by Breast Cancer Ireland, working with women of all ages, from TY students and staff to women’s groups, advising them about good breast health and the importance of knowing how to do self-breast examinations as well as the signs and symptoms to look out for. Awareness saves lives.”