“I’m a self professed Thriver, so much so that my kids got me a necklace with the word thriving on it for Christmas. When I say I’m thriving, I mean that every day, I wake up and am grateful for the life I get to lead with my family. Right now, I’m well and I’m happy and I just need people to know that not every day is doom and gloom”
In October 2018, Fidelma felt a lump in her breast while turning over in bed one morning. When the lump didn’t go away after Fidelma had finished her period, she went to get the lump checked out. On the 14th of November she was sent for further testing when where it was discovered that Fidelma had breast cancer.
Originally thought to be early stage, Fidelma was taken in for a full mastectomy and breast reconstruction. After surgery, her surgeon was unhappy with some of the results that came back, but needing time to recover, Fidelma was discharged from hospital and went home to spend time with her family.
After surgery, it Fidelma’s team found shadows on her spine and pelvis and 2 months after surgery, she was told that she had metastic cancer. This was a blow as she had no pain and felt well.
“It was strange to told you have incurable cancer and in the same breath, be handed pages and pages of information on how the medications you have to take could affect your body. To this day I haven’t read all the side effects information I was given.”
“Living with so much uncertainty is something that I didnt know how I was going to manage. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is life long. I have medication I take on a daily basis as well as regular hospital visits, scans and meetings with my oncologist, all of this is so daunting at the beginning and can still be some days”. Luckily, Fidelma has a fantastic support system around her in her friends and family.
“I am lucky that I have the wonderful love and support I’ve gotten from my husband and children, other family members and my closest friends. They have been amazing all the way along. We’ve laughed and cried, walked and talked and it’s all helped to get me through. They along with the support services are my people and I couldn’t be thriving without them.”
Struggling mentally after her diagnosis, Fidelama, aged 46 came across the Marie Keating Foundation’s Positive Living Group.
“It was the first time since I had been diagnosed that I felt people got me. The other women know exactly what I’m talking about and because the group is so specific to women that have MBC, I never feel embarrassed to talk about things.”
During this uncertain time, and due to Fidelma’s high risk status when it comes to the coronavirus, she has been having some anxieties about leaving her house.
“I was picking up some bits in Trim and I was honestly taken aback by the amount of people I saw milling round town. There was no social distancing and so precautions and I honestly felt terrified. I lost sleep over it that night I was so worked up about it.” Fidelma explained.
“The positive living whatsapp has been a fantastic outlet for me to talk to the other ladies about the anxieties I’ve been having.” The groups new Whatsapp is a space for members to speak about experiences that they encounter, as well as a forum for their nursing facilitator Helen to share useful information and articles with the women related to their diagnosis, a feature which has been particularly helpful when it comes to managing the risk of COVID-19.
“It’s important for me to share my story so that women that have just recently been diagnosed haven a positive experience to draw from. When I was diagnosed, none of the stories I read were good and it sent me into a bit of a spiral. I want people to know that it is possible to live, and live well with a metastatic cancer diagnosis, and that once your take a step back, and find the right people and supports to surround yourself with, you can truly enjoy the time you get to spend with the people you love.”