Ailish Hamill

In September 2018 I was breastfeeding my 3rd child, then aged 17mths. I felt a lumpy area in my left breast and as it wasn’t clearing up, I went to my GP who referred me for further tests. I had an ultrasound done and was told it was just down to breastfeeding. Fast forward a year to October 2019 and I was pregnant with my 4th baby. As the lump still hadn’t cleared up and I had stopped breastfeeding I went back for further tests and was diagnosed with Her2 positive breast cancer. I was told then that an ultrasound done while breastfeeding is not accurate and led to a delay in my diagnosis, which I think is really important information for breastfeeding mothers.

They couldn’t do tests to see if it had spread until after I delivered my baby. My son was delivered by section at 35 weeks and brought straight to NICU, thankfully he was doing great. I had further tests and was diagnosed with stage 4 secondary cancer in my liver when he was two days old.

I started chemo a week after he was born and while he was still in NICU. It was a really stressful and difficult time especially with 3 other children under 6 years old at home. Thankfully our family and neighbours were a great support and got us through that time.

My treatment worked well, and my tumors were dramatically reduced. Although I live with the constant fear of recurrence, I feel so lucky that these drugs have been able to treat me and allow me to be here with my husband and children. I will have to have treatment for life and go for a day of infusions every 3 weeks in the Galway Clinic.

I started running in July 2021 after finishing chemo in March. I had never done any running before but wanted to change my lifestyle and have found it a great outlet, physically and mentally.

Update-wise, I’ve been on the new drug, Enhertu for over a year now. Thankfully it’s working well, although the side effects are hard to manage sometimes. I travel from Galway to Vincent’s every 4 weeks to get it and then I have one sick week following that. We do our best to adjust to the routine of it with the children and family life etc and just hope that it keeps working as well as it has been!

I decided to use my story to raise some money for Breast Cancer Ireland as it’s so important to me that their great work is able to continue, both for myself and every other person with breast cancer. My friends and family were so generous in donating and we raised well over €6000. I really hope it can make a difference to the treatment options for those with breast cancer.