Paula Mc Clean

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Paula Mc Clean

On July 8, 2011, at the age of 42, Paula McClean was diagnosed with Stage II invasive breast cancer. Several weeks before, she had been at a family wedding where her three little daughters were flower girls.

“The night before the wedding, I was applying tan to my arms and chest area when I felt a lump in my left breast. At first, I didn’t worry as I thought it couldn’t be something sinister – I was too young, with no family history of breast cancer. When I felt for it again a couple of weeks later, however, it was still there, so on June 29, I went to my GP.”

The next two weeks took Paula to St. Vincent’s Hospital for consultations, mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies. And then, on July 8, she was told she had breast cancer. “I had a mastectomy the following week. Reconstruction was discussed but I made the personal decision to have delayed reconstruction. I was frightened and overwhelmed at the news that I had breast cancer, and at the time all I could think about was my three young girls and my family.”

As her tumour was small and the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes, Paula was advised to have an Oncotype DX test to establish if she required chemotherapy. “The results were positive,” she remembers. “I did six rounds of chemotherapy. 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 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. Two months after finishing chemotherapy I started running. 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. I feel great.”

Paula wants to share her story with others, as she can’t stress firmly enough about the importance of early detection. “I honestly didn’t think this could happen to me, but it did. I also want to reassure other women that there is life after breast cancer, and there are lots of people to help you through a very difficult journey. I feel honoured to be an ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland and I’m 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 it will be for women of all ages.”