With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts

- Eleanor Roosevelt

Francine Costello

A letter from Francine Costello January 2023


“Hi Marie Keating Foundation,

My name is Francine Costello. Today marks one year since finding a lump in my breast in the shower.
A date that will stick in my mind forever. I was always breast aware and I was carrying out a breast examination when I came upon the tiny lump underneath my armpit. I checked and double checked and thought to myself yes there’s something definitely there. Having had history of breast cancer in the family I acted immediately and phoned my GP. She wasn’t overly concerned at it was movable but referred me on to a private breast clinic the next day.
His first thoughts were it was a cyst but wanted to be sure so she sent me to Galway a few days later.

I was quite confident all was ok and wasn’t nervous.
I was 34 lived a healthy lifestyle and didn’t smoke.

I had the mammogram done and then an ultrasound, she seemed to be checking for ages and I started to
get worried.
She then said ‘I think we will do a biopsy’ and from experience I knew they wouldn’t do this unless they were concerned. I broke down in tears.
They assured me this was routine and wanted to make sure all was ok. I knew by her face it wasn’t. I don’t think I even realised the biopsy was done.
My husband came to get me and we were told we had to wait a week for results. The longest and hardest weeks of my life.

I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer on the 21st January 2022. I will never forget hearing those words ‘it’s cancer’. I clutched my husbands hand and went to pieces. I wasn’t listening to anything, all I could think of were my two girls who were 2 and 4 at the time. We were in the middle of building a house and I had started a job I loved.
They assured me it was caught early and my prognosis was good.

It took us a few days to digest it all. Family and friends were amazing. I got my treatment plan and on the 18th February I started chemo. I would have 16 sessions in total.
We also had genetic testing and I found out I was a carrier of the BRCA2 gene. This felt like another slap in the face for me. I was so angry.
Losing my hair on St. Patrick’s Day (also my dad’s anniversary) was the hardest thing ever.
I had cut it short to take control but when it started to fall out my amazing hubby and kids shaved it. There were no tears and the kids said mummy was like a hedgehog. The kids were more excited about choosing my headbands everyday.
Chemo finished in July and I had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction on the same day in Galway. They were truly amazing. I will also have another procedure in a few months as a preventative measure because I’m a BRCA2 carrier.
I am so glad in a way I knew about the gene because I can protect my family and
children. It explained to me that this is why I got Breast cancer at 34.

The Marie Keating Foundation has been an amazing support to me and I always have someone to talk to.

I am now cancer free and living my best life with my amazing family and friends.

I wanted to share my story to raise awareness. I would not have found this lump if I had not been looking. Please make time to check. A simple few minutes could save your life. I am so grateful to be here.

Francine xxx ”


Francine joined our BRCA Online support community, for more information on this and our other support groups please go to www.mariekeating.ie for more information