Paula McClean

Paula McClean

………• To promote and encourage women of all ages to be breast aware – Earlier detection leads to more positive patient outcome……

This statement from Breast Cancer Ireland means so much to me …….. I was diagnosed with Stage II invasive Breast Cancer on the 8th July, 2011 at the age of 42. I had been at a family wedding where my three little daughters were flower-girls. The night before the wedding, I was applying some tan to my arms and chest area when I felt a lump in my left breast. I knew I had not felt it before but thought maybe it was because I was applying tan that I came across it. At first I did not worry as I thought it couldn’t be something sinister, I was too young, no family history of breast cancer and it therefore was nothing to worry about. After the wedding, we returned to Dublin and I went on about my busy family life. I did not immediately go to my GP, as I still thought and I suppose, looking back, hoped that it was nothing. However I had a niggling feeling about it and when I felt it again a couple of weeks later it was still there. I went to my GP on the 29th of June, 2011….a beautiful sunny day. The next two weeks took me to St. Vincents Hospital for consultation, mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies. On the 8th of July, my whole world fell apart, I was told I had breast cancer. There was a tumor in my left breast and whilst it was small and I had done very well to find it, there were further tests required to establish whether I would require a mastectomy. I had a mastectomy the following week. Reconstruction was discussed and I made the personal decision to have delayed reconstruction and not immediate reconstruction. I was frightened and overwhelmed at the news that I had breast cancer and for me at the time all I could think about was my three young girls and my family. As my tumor was small and the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes I was advised to have an Oncotype DX test to establish if I required chemotherapy. The results were positive. I did six rounds of chemotherapy which I finished in December, 2011. I lost my hair which was devastating and which I had loved, as every woman does! It was a very difficult time for all my family but I was determined to keep strong and well for them and ticked off every chemo session until the final one was finished. I started Tamoxifen in January, 2012 and I have not looked back. My hair has grown back and I feel fantastic, healthy and happy. In February, 2012 two months after finishing chemotherapy I started running. I took extra care of my diet and I have never felt better. I had the first of my two surgeries for reconstruction in October, 2012 and my second in March, 2013. I am delighted with the results. I am back running four times a week and running up to 10k and feel great. I want to share my story with others from two perspectives as I can not stress enough the importance of early detection. I honestly did not think that this could happen to me. It did. I also want to share my story with others who might be facing into this extremely difficult time and to reassure them that there is life after breast cancer and there are lots of people to help you through this difficult journey. I feel honoured to be an ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland and am delighted to help them in any way I can. This is a frightening experience for anyone to go through and the more information, awareness, knowledge and research for a cure the better for all women of all ages. Paula McClean