Barbara O’Reilly Hyland

borhThirteen years ago I felt a lump in my left breast and went to my GP, who said it was of no importance. I was delighted and got on with my life. Two years later, my husband commented on the size of the lump, so I went to the Well Woman clinic and was told to get a mammogram immediately. I had a mastectomy, then chemotherapy and reconstruction. Being diagnosed with breast cancer is not the news any woman ever wants to hear and was traumatic especially as the only people I had known, who had breast cancer, were since deceased. The loving support of my husband and family combined with having a small child to raise emboldened me to constantly look to the positives and made a huge difference in my approach to the challenge I was presented with. The level of information and support from the wider cancer care community and my medical team in particular, gave me huge confidence that cancer treatment has made gigantic strides in successful treatment rates over recent years. I still go for regular scheduled check-ups and am greatly impressed by how treatment and early detection rates have improved even during the eleven years since I became directly affected. These improvements are largely due to the amazing work being done in breast cancer research and the future is getting brighter all the time. Losing a breast was difficult but understandable because it would save my life but losing my hair was really, really difficult. It is such an invasion of one’s public persona and appearance it was at times very upsetting. The good news is however that within 21 days after the last chemo session you can feel the stubble coming back! After six years on Arimadex, I haven’t looked back. I still don’t understand why I got breast cancer, it was not in my family, I am a non smoker I was slim, fit, living a healthy lifestyle, eating organic food whenever possible. Nowadays, treatment is tailor made for the individual and has never been as effective, all thanks to research. Recently I took part in “Strictly for Breast Cancer” in the convention centre, where we raised a huge amount of money and had the very best of fun in the process. I am thrilled and humbled to be an ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland. Hopefully, women whom have been diagnosed, will take a bit of comfort from seeing others living a long healthy life after their treatments. I would encourage everyone to help raise money for this amazing charity.

October 2016 – Barbara recently took part in the RCSI MyHealth talk about her experiences around Breast Cancer.