"All we want to do is survive:" Mayo breast cancer survivor shares her story of hope
"It's not the easiest journey..."
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This week, we chatted to Garda Fiona Morgan Coleman about her breast cancer. journey from finding a lump to eventually being eight months cancer free.
Fiona's story began in 2019 when she was lying in bed. "I came across a lump on my breast and I jumped," she says. Fiona didn't want her husband to worry so she told him "it's probably just a bit of bone", and booked an appointment with her doctor.
The next day she rang her doctor who told her the lump was either a cyst or breast cancer. She was given an appointment in the breast clinic in Limerick. "While I was there on the day they did a mammogram and a biopsy on the same day," she says. Her mammogram came back clear and she left feeling relieved.
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But when the biopsy came back a few weeks later, it wasn't the good news Fiona had expected. The results showed that she did have breast cancer. "I was shocked, I was upset. I've got two children," she says. "One was four, the other is three, how am I going to get through this?"
Like many women who've had breast cancer, Fiona had to have a mastectomy. "I had the surgery in July and then I started my treatment. Chemotherapy was the first one for me."
She said after her first few chemo sessions she "could feel a tightness" in her head. "I knew then that my hair was starting to fall out."
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"Being a girl and losing your hair, it's just horrible, there's no other way to describe it," she says. "You don't even feel yourself. And that's when you realise that you're sick."
Fiona says she "tried to live as normal life as I could." One thing that kept her motivated was posting on her Instagram. She'd say to herself whenever she was feeling down: "Get up put your face on, look your best", even when she felt like she was "going to die."
After her chemo she had 35 sessions of radiation. "The nurses are fantastic," she says."For all you beautiful women out there who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, please do not Google a thing. Ask your nurse or oncologist."
Eight months on, and Fiona is now cancer free. "My hair is after growing back so well, I feel so good in myself, I feel so much stronger," she says.
"It's not the easiest journey, it's tough. But we actually don't realise how tough we are until we're faced with something, and at the end of the day all we want to do is survive."
If you're worried about any changes in your body, always contact your doctor.