When I was diagnosed with cancer, my children were 3 and 6 years old. I was so lucky to have them as now, due to the treatment, I can no longer have children. When I got the diagnosis, my first thought was for my children. They needed their mother and I did not want to miss their First Holy Communion, Confirmation, 21 st birthday parties and their weddings. I was determined to fight tooth and nail for my precious future with my family. I could not imagine it any other way.
I was very open from the outset about my condition. We live in a small town and there was no way that I could keep it from the children. I told them the day that I was diagnosed what was happening. Mommy had cancer, but I was going to be fine. I was going to have an operation and treatment that would cause me to loose my hair but it would grow back.
Children are resilient creatures. They cope well with change. I was one of the lucky ones. On my first day at chemotherapy, another lady barley older than me was sitting beside me. When the social worker came around asking did we need help with counselling, this lady had an in-depth conversation with her regarding how she was going to explain to her two young sons, who were both under eight at the time, what was happening. I was taken aback because it was clear as the conversation went on that this woman was in a much more advanced stage of cancer that I was. She was asking the social worker how to explain to her sons that she was dying. When I realised what was going on, I started crying. She looked very healthy to me. I could not believe it. She passed away 2 months later. And it was a huge blow to me. I used to sit next to her for chemotherapy and she was a wonderful fighter. I still think of her lovely two sons often.
When I was getting my treatment, there were many positives. It gave me precious time with my sons that I never had before due to work commitments. I dropped them to school every day and collected them afterwards. I was able to do their homework with them. In many ways, it was great. I have my eldest sons English writing copy from that time and on the 25th of November, 2011, part of his news is "My Mom's hair fell out but she got two wigs". Just like that, it was no problem!
The children came with me for appointments in the hospital, visited me when I had my big operation, and came with me for chemotherapy and radiotherapy. While not everyone may agree with me doing this, I wanted to show them that there was nothing to worry about. The nurses and doctors were fantastic and so kind to my boys during these visits. I will never forget the amount of biscuits we went through on these visits.
And now we are out the other side. My boys are now 7 and 10 years old. They do not fear cancer. They seen me battle it and win. I never want them to be afraid of cancer. They got me up out of bed on many a tough day and I am so lucky to have two wonderful, healthy, happy boys.
The boys visiting me in hospital when I had my big operation in September, 2011.
Tom testing out my wig in October, 2011.
Me and Josh doing a selfie in December, 2011.
Me and and Tom at his Christmas play in December, 2011. I was half way through my chemotherapy and I did not look well.
The 4 of us out for a walk in January, 2012. I had no eyebrows, eyelashes or hair.
The boys in the chemotherapy ward in the South Infirmary Hospital in Cork in March, 2012. I do not think they were too bothered!
When I finished my chemotherapy in March, 2012, my Mom took myself and the 2 boys to Dingle for a weekend to celebrate.
Our first family holiday in Spain since my diagnosis, in August, 2012. My hair is growing back. Such happy memories.