Anne was diagnosed with Stage 3C breast cancer two years ago. She underwent chemotherapy treatment before her mastectomy. She also had radiation and is still undergoing reconstruction. “I didn’t realise it’s so common and that it’s so treatable. When I heard ‘cancer’ I thought I was dying. I thought this is it. I didn’t realise even when it is Stage 3, it’s still treatable.”
Biggest surprise Because I write and I’m a creative person, that was my saviour, because I approached it as a new experience. I really engaged with it on that level, almost as a privileged insight into an incredible experience. Part of it might be denial and part of it might be the way the human mind works, but I look back and I think it wasn’t that bad.
Best piece of advice she received You really need one person who comes on the journey with you. I didn’t have a partner, but it was my sister who really shared the experience. I would imagine it could be lonely if you didn’t even have that one person who knows the significance of every appointment and every test result. My sister just knew it all and really shared everything with me.
Did having cancer make you completely reassess your beliefs? I’d always been very focused on work and very clear about not believing in marriage. I measured up having kids from a feminist perspective. Having cancer really connected me to my body. Now, it’s too late for me to have kids, but I realise that there is this core urge that goes so beyond all the rubbish you read in the papers and the right wing stuff about women being in the home … that there is this desire for organisms to replicate. I connected with that a bit and if it had happened to me when I was younger, I think, getting well again, I would have liked to have children now. I would have had a tendency to intellectualise everything, but it’s about listening to your body. Your body can really tell you amazing truths.
I’ve Got Cancer, What’s Your Excuse? by Anne Gildea (Hachette, approx €17) is out now. For information on gigs, check out thenualas.com.
If you want to make a DONATION to the Irish Cancer Society you can CallSave 1850 60 60 60 or visit here.
If you want to fundraise to help support those with breast cancer you can join the Irish Cancer Society’s Get the Girls campaign by ringing CallSave 1850 60 60 60 or visit www.getthegirls.ie