Monday 21 August 2017

Irish blogger Sinead Kavanagh on being diagnosed with cancer at 31: 'I just stood and cried in the aisle of Boots'

Sinead Kavanagh was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 31. Image: thebeattruth/Instagram
Sinead Kavanagh was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 31. Image: thebeattruth/Instagram
Amy Mulvaney

Amy Mulvaney

Irish blogger Sinead Kavanagh has opened up about being diagnosed with cancer at 31, and shared the joy of welcoming her first child four years later.

Sinead, who runs popular beauty blog The Beautiful Truth, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013 after asking a nurse to look at a lump she had found.

"My health hasn't been amazing for a lot of my life," Sinead told Independent.ie

"In May 2013, at 31-years-old, I was diagnosed with follicular carcinoma on my thyroid, and for about a year and a half before that I was continuously vomiting.

"That April, I found a lump and was in the hospital during a visit for my allergies and asked the nurse to have a look at it. It pretty much snow-balled from there. There were follicular and hurthle cancer cells, and one month later half of my thyroid was removed. That should have gotten rid of the tumor, but in October of that year I had to get the other half of my thyroid removed too."

The Leixlip native said it was after her first meeting with an oncologist that the reality of her diagnosis really sank in.

"It was the 11th of November 2013 when I had my first meeting with an oncologist. Before that, I had just met with surgeons and then it just hit me. That's the thing about cancer, it's non-discriminatory. They were talking about survival rates, and afterwards I went to Liffey Valley to buy some makeup to make me feel better, but I just ended up crying in the aisle of Boots.

"During my treatment, I went to the Irish Cancer Society's Daffodil Centre in the Hermitage and they just knew how to deal with it. Sometimes people avoided me when they didn't know what to say, but in the Daffodil Centre I could cry and they gave me the facts that I needed to hear."

After receiving her diagnosis, Sinead said that she wasn't ready to have a baby, but it was on her mind.

"When I was diagnosed, I wasn't ready to have a baby. We were told not to even try for the first year because of the radioactive iodine used to treat the thyroid. I'd previously had some of my cervix removed in 2006 and 2010 after pre-cancerous cells were discovered during smear tests.

"We were told we might struggle to conceive, and I started saving money just in case. My endocrinologist told me, "Just forget the science and enjoy yourself."

Fast forward a year and a half to July 2015 when Sinead and her partner tied the knot. Three months later, she was pregnant.

"I used the money I'd saved to visit a consultant, and was told that I was a high risk case from the beginning. It was decided that I'd need a cervical stitch in prevent me from losing the baby.

"Because of my health history with my cervix and thyroid, I was a double whammy case. I didn't even really announce my pregnancy until I was six months gone."

Sinead had a transabdominal cerlcage, where an incision was made "from hip to hip" and a stitch was placed at the top of the cervix.

During her recovery, Sinead had a slight tear in her placenta which healed itself after a few weeks of bedrest.

On July 14, 2016 Sinead and her husband welcomed a healthy and happy baby boy through c-section. Now, Sinead is using the platform of her blog to show that, despite what Google may say about certain diagnoses, hope exists.

"I'm technically in remission now, but even my own doctor says I'm grand. I get my bloods done every six to eight weeks and they are constantly being monitored.

"You only ever hear bad news when it comes to cancer, which is why I want to share my story. During my treatment, I discovered that I'm a good ostrich. I just put my head in the sand and ignore everything bad around me."

Sinead is currently participating in the Irish Cancer Society's Marathon in a Month Challenge to raise funds for the charity.

"I'm not a fit person at all, and at the moment I'm desperately struggling with my weight, especially with my thyroid and the baby.

"I want to use my platform for good and give what I can when I can."

Join Sinead, complete the challenge at your speed and donate at www.cancer.ie/marathoninamonth.

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