‘I was thinking is that really there, is it really a lump?

By Caomhóg Breathnach

TWO years on from being diagnosed with breast cancer, a woman tells her inspiring journey from diagnosis to being back to full health.

Geraldine Dunphy was just 37 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, after finding a lump whilst undressing.

Geraldine Dunphy 01 1

Geraldine Dunphy was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago

Geraldine said her ‘life fell apart’ when she received her diagnosis but went on to fight the battle and is now in great health and back at work. She is now sharing her story to inspire others that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“Back in August 2018 and I was out for dinner and I came home, and I was getting undressed, I don’t know what made me check that night, but I checked my breast and found a lump.

“I was thinking is that really there, is it really a lump? and I was awake all night then. I was having all these conversations with myself like ‘will I go get it checked out, but I am a bit busy I’ll go next week if it’s still there.’

“I knew there was something wrong, my gut instinct said there is something up. I went to the GP and she called me back two days later for a biopsy and then I had to wait for about two and a half weeks for the results.”

After receiving her biopsy results, Geraldine, from Lucan, received the devastating news that she had breast cancer on the 3rd of September 2018.

“I was called into the breast surgeon and he told me it was breast cancer. I was 37 at the time, it was a big shock nobody anticipates they’re going to get cancer.”

“I was thinking about it and if it is worst case scenario and it is cancer, what’s the worst that can happen?

“Well, I could have to lose my breast and do chemo and lose my hair, and if I have to do chemo would that affect my fertility because I don’t have children and all these things were coming into my head.

“I thought look, I can do these things, they are physical things I can do that, so I was like you are able for this, you are strong enough for this.

“When I spoke to my doctor about what to do next, he was talking about people in my position and he was talking mortality rates, and in my head, I thought ‘what?’ what is he talking about? And that really hit me, because in my mind I was thinking worst case scenario- breast, hair, going through chemo. I was like why is he talking about mortality rates? I am not going to die from this.

“I suppose I was trying to prepare for worst case scenario, but I never factored dying into the equation.

“When he told me that, I went home and bawled that night but then I said to myself ‘Ger, you have it early, you’re going to be fine’ and I picked myself back up again.”

Geraldine was brought in for an MRI and went for surgery shortly after. Concerned about her fertility and how chemotherapy might affect it, Geraldine went through with fertility egg preservation.

A week later, Geraldine began chemotherapy in April 2019 for five months and had 20 sessions of radiotherapy in May. She also had to take an anti-oestrogen drug called Herceptin.

“Going through chemo I found it ok. Obviously, you are really fatigued and nauseous all the time and weak.

“It’s funny when I talk about it now because it’s almost like your mind tries to block that out now as if it’s never happened. I’ll look at photographs of me with no hair and think, was I really that bald?

“It’s not nice at all but what I would say to anyone potentially facing it, it’s not nice it strips you of all your life, you are not going out socialising and your whole body and appearance changes and that can have an emotional affect, but as tough as that is, it is doable.”

Geraldine finished her radiotherapy in June 2019 and has been cancer free since.

She is doing great and has now returned to work full-time and says she has a ‘full head of hair’ again. She has check-ups every six months and a yearly mammogram and takes an anti-oestrogen tablet daily, which she will be on for the next 8 years.

“Health-wise I feel good and I am getting back to normality like working and things like that which has been really good.”

Geraldine said she found The Irish Cancer Society an enormous support throughout her diagnosis and treatment.

“I went to one of the daffodil centres in the hospital where I was getting my radiotherapy and I went down to talk to the nurse there and it’s really good because you have someone to talk to that gets it, even to pop in for five minutes to talk to someone in the daffodil centre and it is someone that understands.”

Ahead of Daffodil Day on March 26, 2021, The Irish Cancer Society have released a powerful ad campaign which shows the real-life impact of cancer. Geraldine is seen in the ad in a video taken back when she was undergoing chemotherapy.

“They asked me to send some footage and one of the videos I was going to get my head shaved and I actually made a video that morning of me brushing my hair and trying to tie it up in a bobbin. I remember speaking with my family that morning and they were asking me how I feel about getting my head shaved and I said, ‘I’m fine, I’m done with it now’.

“I said I made the video to show them what I go through everyday with my hair falling out. I said you know what, I will keep it because someday if somebody I know or I meet someone that wants to know how your hair falls out I have it.”

By subscribing to The Echo you are supporting your local newspaper Click Here: Echo Online.

Prev Jack suffers brain injury after being knocked down by lorry
Next ‘Resilience Project’ will improve community safety
  • Light House in Kilnamanagh gets decorated for Easter
  • Scrap yard fire Greenhills Road
  • A Happy St Patrick’s Day from Dublin Fire Brigade
  • Happy St Patrick's Day 2021
  • Food table in Tallaght

Will you watch the Harry and Meghan interview with Oprah?

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site, personalise content, provide social media features, analyse our traffic, show you relevant advertising and to target and report on ads. By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies that may process personal data for these purposes.