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Colleen’s Story

Colleen from Belaghy, Co. Derry was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2022. She is sharing her story to raise awareness of the impact of cancer and the importance of our services.

My name is Colleen. My husband Sean and I have 2 daughters, Cliodhna and Dervla who are in upper sixth and second year and we’ve always been a close family. We like to spend quality time together, going out for walks and away for wee breaks. This time together is really important to me.

When I was diagnosed with cancer it was a huge shock. I had no symptoms and had gone to get a mammogram because a friend had just been diagnosed and I thought I should get checked. There were no warning signs. It thought I was fine and was really just going for peace of mind and then was suddenly thrown into the deep end.

 

From the word go, cancer affected our whole family. It was the most scary time in my life and I just didn’t know how to break it to the girls. I just thought I was going to break their hearts.

 

It was Gareth, our Cancer Support Specialist from Cancer Fund for Children who helped with this. He talked me through how to tell the girls and sent me information that I could read up on. He came out for a visit and spoke to the girls and it helped so much. When you get diagnosed, everyone is giving you medical advice and treatment plans and it’s not about the family.

For me, family was the most important thing and Cancer Fund for Children were also focused on the whole family.

Treatment was a whirlwind. I had 2 surgeries in November and December and then went into chemotherapy and radiotherapy. After this I had to get injections every 3 weeks for a year. The world of treatment can be so “go go go” and you can feel awful, not just physically but mentally.

 

Throughout our experience, our family got to visit Daisy Lodge and it was better than amazing. It’s a real safe, supportive environment. We didn’t even think about cancer. 

 

We played games and did artwork together for the first time and we still have the pieces in our house, they’re just so special. I also got reflexology done and Sean had a massage, and it was so relaxing.

The staff are just unreal. Nothing was a problem, and we were all so well looked after. They say you meet angels on earth and Daisy Lodge is full of them. The Cancer Support Specialists showed us breathing techniques and we did an exercise where we finished a piece of poetry and it was just unreal how much emotion it brought up. I know I can still use those techniques to help me in the future.

It was also very important for us and the girls to see other families, so we didn’t feel like it was only us. The girls felt like “why us” in the beginning. They didn’t know anybody else but when you go somewhere like Daisy Lodge you can see other people and know that you’re not alone and there are other families you can speak to. It helps so much.

If there was one thing I would want people to know about cancer, it’s that it’s important to get tested and do your checks because early diagnosis can save your life.

You can help us be there for more families like Colleen’s. Get behind us today!