Cancer diagnosis for Orla felt like being ‘hit by a tsunami’

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A 37-YEAR-OLD woman who felt her life had been “hit by a tsunami” after a cancer diagnosis in January is planning to run Breast Cancer Ireland’s Great Pink Run in September after raising over €3,000 for the charity.

Bohernabreena woman Orla Byrne was diagnosed with stage four inflammatory breast cancer, which spreads to lymph nodes and tissues, after she noticed swelling in her right breast two days before Christmas.

Orla Byrne 05 27072017

She went to her GP who then referred her to the breast centre in the Beacon Hospital in Sandyford. Meanwhile over Christmas and into the new year the swelling got worse.

Orla told The Echo: “By New Year’s Eve my breast had enlarged a frightening amount, so on Tuesday January 3 I had a triple assessment in hospital, and by that Friday I was called back in and told I had breast cancer.

“My world was turned upside down, I was frantic, but I was so grateful that the cancer had been picked up.

“The type of cancer I was diagnosed with is aggressive by its nature, so I’ve had very aggressive treatment.”

Six months of aggressive chemotherapy followed, which alongside all the side effects of treatment, meant Orla had to endure losing her hair, which she described as being a distressing experience.

“At 37 years old cancer blew my world away, I never expected it at all.

“It snuck up on me out of  nowhere– I was absolutely terrified.

Orla Byrne 07 27072017

“For the first three months of treatment it’s like you’ve handed yourself over to the hospital.”

The diagnosis was particularly surprising as Orla has always led an active lifestyle, having run marathons and engaged in fitness training with Shane Smith Fitness in St Anne’s GAA Club.

Recently Orla found out that she has responded well to her chemotherapy treatment , which made the Great Pink Run the perfect choice.

“This is my small way of giving back,” she explained. “It’s a great way to raise some money and it’s the perfect goal to set myself.”

When Orla set up her fundraising page she set her target at a modest €500, but at the time of going to print she had raised over €3,000.

“I’ve been blown away by the generosity of people – it’s really overwhelming.

The Great Pink Run takes place in Phoenix Park on Sept 9. You can donate to Orla’s fundraising page online at

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