"My life is so much more than my cancer"
Offaly woman helps launch Very Pink Run for Breast Cancer Ireland
Killeigh resident Cathy Lynch recently helped to launch Breast Cancer Ireland’s Very Pink Run. The global event will return this year in both a physical and ‘virtual’ sense.
Cathy said she was delighted to be involved in the event as the charity had been a great assistance to her. “I'm delighted because I feel Breast Cancer Ireland itself have helped me recently, certainly, with metastatic breast cancer. They've been great and they say it's a great day. I've never done it before.
Cathy, who has recovered from breast cancer earlier in her life, and now has Stage 4 metastic cancer, said it was lovely to meet other people at the recent launch of the event in Cork, who were on the same wavelength as her. She said: “Research is what's keeping me alive so anything I can do to help is worth my while as well.”
Cathy was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, aged 41.
She felt a lump and puckering in her breast which was completely out of the blue. Cathy, her husband John and three sons Sean, Conor and Liam had just moved from Dublin to Killeigh the previous year.
After going to the doctor for a check up, Cathy was very quickly referred to St James' Hospital in Dublin.
She then had a mastectomy, reconstruction, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She said: “My boys were six, eight and eleven at the time and my husband had started a new business too. I recovered slowly, with a lot of support from family and friends, and our local cancer support in Tullamore.”
“Unfortunately, a pain in my side in April 2016 and further investigation left me with a diagnosis of metastatic cancer in my liver and bones. I was in complete shock and denial. I didn’t really believe it, was terrified, but was assured there were plenty of treatment options available to me.”
Cathy continued: “I reacted well to a hormone tablet and have been mostly stable ever since. Sometimes, I feel like a fraud, as ‘Stage 4 Cancer’ sounds terrifying, and it is, but I’m learning to live well with it. I have scans and attend my Oncologist about every three months now.”
Cathy previously had some serious issues with bowel problems and a ruptured breast implant. She said that she knew something wasn't right and her implant was removed as it was found to be badly infected. “Thankfully, the bowel issues were benign. I often feel I’m living from each scan to the result and only breathe normally when I hear the word ‘stable.’"
She added that having the breast implant removed was “traumatic.”
“It just was painful and I had felt there was something wrong myself for quite a while.” Cathy doesn't like to dwell on her illness too much but said that she finds the period before appointments very hard.
“Then between a scan and results I'm just not much fun. It's like there's a gun to your head.”
“Support, especially lately, as time goes on, has become more and more important to me. Again, my local cancer support centre has been amazing. I have a few people who understand. That helps. I feel frustrated when I feel others should understand, and don’t. I know I often play it down though, and I’m possibly to blame for reactions.”
Cathy's cousin Anne sadly passed away from metastatic breast cancer and Cathy said she was “so strong and fought all the way.” Cathy said that Anne was a great support to her and that she fought her illness until the end.
“Her death shook me to the core, but I feel her strength. I want to live to see my boys and a grandchild is due this year. I’ve a lot to live for.”
"There's a lot else in life," Cathy continued. "We've just had our first grandchild but I never thought I'd see a grandchild so that's been amazing. Cathy said that the same day she became a grandmother, her Dad who has dementia was very unwell. “We had a week of absolute highs and absolute lows.”
Cathy said that her son Sean and daughter-in-law Lydia got married last year which was a big celebration for the family as it had been postponed a number of times previously due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"My life is so much more than my cancer. Nowadays, I work part time in my husband’s business. I stay overnight with my mum in Dublin most weeks, my dad has dementia and is now in a nursing home. My boys are ‘reared’ and while life hasn’t been easy at different stages, I feel I do my best to look after myself as best I can. I deal with daily pain and other issues but rest when I need to. I want to give my body the best chance to survive well.”
Cathy enjoys walking and said she pushes herself to do things. She also does some yoga and reflexology with Dóchas Offaly Cancer Support.
Breast Cancer Ireland's Very Pink Run will take place over three days. Participants can take part in one of three live large-scale physical events taking place in Dublin at Leopardstown Race Course on Saturday, September 30, Kilkenny Castle Park on Sunday, October 1 or at the brand-new location of MTU in Cork on Sunday, October 8.
A large group of very well-known faces have already joined this year’s ‘Very Pink Tribe’ including none other than Daniel O’Donnell, whose wife Majella is in recovery from breast cancer, RTE’s Sinead Kennedy, Virgin Media presenter Kamal Ibrahim, Fair City Actor, Ryan Andrews, rugby stars Josh van der Flier, Robbie Henshaw, former Irish international rugby player Shane Byrne and TV personality James Patrice.
Registrations for the event are open at www.verypinkrun.ie and the Very Pink Run events are open to all age groups, families, friends and solo participants, who have the option of running, jogging, walking or even scooting over either a 10k or a 5k course.