Mum Emer Smith has told how beating breast cancer has given her a new lease of life. And the 44-year-old has urged other women not to give up hope following a diagnosis.
Speaking ahead of the Marie Keating Pfizer Powering Pink Duck Race, Emer said the charity supported her through her darkest times.
The Dublin woman revealed her eldest son Daniel, now 24, put his life on hold to nurse her through her illness while his younger brother Sean, now 18, sat his Junior Cert during the tough time.
The accounts manager revealed how she felt a lump and decided to take action immediately.
She added: “I wasn’t feeling well last year. I didn’t put it down to bad health, I put it down to losing a parent and I’ve a very busy job and keeping the house and things together.
“I would never have checked my breasts before but I found a lump. I was taking a shower after work on a Friday night.”
Emer’s instinct told her it was something she needed to get checked out.
She said: “I knew it wasn’t right. It was only the size of a pea, that’s what I felt. I made an appointment with my GP for the Monday. She noticed something under my arm too which I hadn’t picked up on.
“It was a bit of a blur for a week after that waiting for results.
“But I was very lucky. I moved quickly on it and my doctor was able to pick it up as well. I had a mammogram and biopsy and I was told then that it was breast cancer.
“It was a whirlwind year of getting in and starting treatment. I had the chemotherapy first, that was between July and November. There was 16 sessions.
“I lost my hair, eyelashes, every little stitch of hair to be honest.
“In actual fact I found the eyelashes the most difficult as I love my mascara because you can paint on the eyebrows.”
Emer said she cut her shoulder-length hair first before it started to fall out.
She admitted: “That I found very hard. But the week the hair went was very traumatic.
“If I was there again, please God I won’t be, I would advise anyone who is going to get chemo to shave your head first.”
Emer revealed she couldn’t have got through cancer if it hadn’t been for the support of her two boys.
She added: “I was very young when I had my eldest son. It was very hard at the time but now I’m glad. I wish I could nominate them for sons of the year or something.
“They were absolutely brilliant the pair of them.
“Daniel ran the house and he put his whole life on hold, his social life and career.
“Poor Sean had to do his Junior Cert with all this going on but he actually did brilliantly despite it all.
“I can’t express the pride and the gratitude and admiration I have for my sons. They were great. They were here 24/7 with me.”
Emer met her partner Gerry just before she was diagnosed. And although it was hard for them both, they are still together.
She said: “He’s been great. He was a huge support. It was lovely and I’m sure it was testing for him at times but we’ve managed to come through the other side.”
One of the most important things for Emer was keeping herself busy during her chemo – she took up a ceramics class and often met pals for a coffee.
And following a lumpectomy and a course of radiotherapy, Emer found help in the form of the Marie Keating Foundation.
She said: “I found the Survive & Thrive course by pure chance when I was Googling something.
“I found that course invaluable. It made me step back from the cancer and concentrate on what’s important and building yourself up again.
“That made all the difference in the world. Then I joined an exercise class in DCU MedEx, specifically for cancer patients.” Emer went back to work part-time in August and intends to make the most of her life now.
She said: “I never did any exercise before. Now I’ve vowed to move more and turn off the telly.
“I like to travel and I’m just going to go for it now. I really want to go to Australia next.”
Emer will be taking part in the Pfizer Powering Pink Duck Race in aid of the Marie Keating Foundation, which was due to take place today, but will now be on Sunday, October 23.
It is being supported by singer Ronan Keating and his wife Storm and will raise vital funds for programmes such as Survive & Thrive. You can adopt a pink rubber duck for just €5, with all proceeds going to the foundation.
Each of the toys will be numbered and cast into the River Liffey, with the owner of the first duck to cross the finish line winning a luxury weekend break for two at the five-star Conrad Hotel in Dublin.
- For more information and to adopt a duck, visit www.mariekeating.ie/ducks.
This article was originally published at the “Article” source noted above and distributed by The Tutu Project for informational purposes only.