Yvonne was a busy working mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. She didn’t fit the patient stereotype, and started looking for other reasons as to why this happened to her. “I lost a child, he was born with a heart defect, and some people thought that the stress of that might have been the reason, but I don’t agree with that. You’d love to know why you got it, and people pick big things like that to explain it, but the truth is I don’t know and neither do the doctors.” Yvonne qualified for a clinical trial called TAILOR which approaches treatment on a personalised basis. She had four sessions of chemo and 25 sessions of radiotherapy. “On some level, I welcomed the chemo. I thought, well, I have three young kids. If I died, I would like my kids to know that it wasn’t because I didn’t try hard enough.”
Hardest Part “When they scan you after the initial diagnosis, there’s a suspension of time when they check to see if it has spread elsewhere. That, for me, was the worst. You feel like you can’t live with any more fear and anxiety. I’ll never forget the terror I experienced. It’s lovely when you overcome it, but I was so terrified, not just for my death, but the impact it would have for all of the people who rely on me.”
Biggest Surprise Yvonne doesn’t believe all other problems diminish, but she did find comfort in being given the space to focus on just one big problem for a change. “I was in a lucky position where I could take time out from work, and it was sort of liberating to know I had one huge focus and everyone allowed me to focus on it. But from every other perspective, it was a terrible blow to the confidence. I would have been a very confident woman, and this was a blow. It shakes your belief in things, and you’ll never be quite as carefree as you used to be.”
Yvonne Joye is author of An Inconvenient Year and a Go Ahead walk For life ambassador in aid of the marie Keating Foundation, which takes place on october 6; for more, visit mariekeating.ie
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