Friday 22 September 2017

Primary school teacher discovered a malignant lump in her breast hours after running a Breast Cancer race in memory of her friend

Sinead Gaskin discovered a malignant lump in her breast days after running the Great Pink Run in 2012
Sinead Gaskin discovered a malignant lump in her breast days after running the Great Pink Run in 2012
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

The weekend that she crossed the finish line of the Great Pink Run is one that will always stick in Sinead Gaskin’s memory, as just hours after achieving the feat, the primary school teacher would discover a lump in her own breast.

Sinead was 37 when she discovered a suspicious lump in the shower after running the annual race in memory of her father’s partner Elizabeth who died in 2010, just five weeks after she was diagnosed with the illness.

The primary school teacher from Dublin admitted that Elizabeth’s death sent a “lightning bolt” through her family and revealed that her short illness encouraged Sinead to be proactive about her own care.

“Elizabeth had been feeling unwell and was complaining of stomach pains and fatigue. Unfortunately tests were carried out in September 2010 and she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Our family had such little knowledge of cancer, we had had no first hand experience with it until Elizabeth but we really though she would be okay.

“However, it had spread all over her body and she never really had a chance. She died five weeks after she was diagnosed, which was a real lightning bolt through our family.

Sinead Gaskin discovered a malignant lump in her breast days after running the Great Pink Run. Here she is pictured with her husband David after the race in 2015
Sinead Gaskin discovered a malignant lump in her breast days after running the Great Pink Run. Here she is pictured with her husband David after the race in 2015

“My husband David and I decided to run the Great Pink Run in memory of Elizabeth in 2012 in the Docklands. We were mindful of her and just wanted to do something to remember her, and raise some funds for Breast Cancer research.

“But that weekend is one that will stay in my brain forever. After we came home from the race I went for a shower and by a skim of my hand I discovered a lump in my breast. Since Elizabeth’s death I had been more conscious of my body, but I wasn’t being as vigilant as I should have been,” she said.

After seeking the opinion of her GP, Sinead was sent for further tests in St Vincent’s Hospital. The teacher, who lives in Wicklow, was diagnosed with breast cancer days later.

“It was one of those moments where everything shuts down. All I heard was the words ‘You have cancer’.

“Of course I asked, ‘Am I going to die?’

“The hardest thing was telling my dad. He had lost my mum in 1999 and then Elizabeth’s death knocked us all for six. However, he was a fantastic support to me throughout treatment, and if he was upset or worried, he never showed me,” she said.

Because Sinead’s cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy were the prescribed course of treatment, and doctors advised that a mastectomy was also necessary to battle against the disease.

Despite her illness, Sinead was determined to run the Great Pink Run after finishing her treatment in April 2013, even though people thought she was mad.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able for the 10km but I knew the 5km was achievable. I just wanted to finish the race considering the previous year, it was the beginning of everything.

“My husband is super speedy and he did his 10km and when I reached 4km I could feel someone tapping me on the shoulder. It was David. It was so emotional, crossing the finish line together. I’m so glad he came to find me. Throughout this experience I would have been so lost only for him. He’s been with me every step of the way.”

The pair have taken part in the race every year since 2012.

The breast cancer survivor urged runners to sign up to the race taking place in September and supported by Avonmore Slimline Milk.

“Had I never done the Great Pink Race I dread to think what would have materialised,” she said.

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