Sile Seoige: 'If you feel your body is out of whack, get a doctor to check you out at once'
TV star Sile Seoige has revealed it was vanity that got her to remove a lump from her neck - something which may have saved her life. And the 37-year-old, who is pregnant, said she was now overjoyed at the thought of becoming a mother.
Sile, who has just had the five-year all-clear from cancer, said she and her guard partner, Damien O'Farrell, were filled with excitement. "To be honest I'm still pinching myself. I'm over half-way there now and it's just brilliant," said the Galway beauty.
Talking to RTE show Today with Maura and Daithi, Sile recalled the shock of being told a "benign" lump in her thyroid was in fact cancerous.
"For three or four years before I got it removed, I had this slight little bulge in the neck and it started to get bigger," she said. "And the last six months before I got it out, it had really grown quite quickly. I was on TV at the time presenting Seoige with [sister] Grainne and all I could see if I watched the show back or saw a photo of myself was this big lump in my neck.
"It wasn't painful. To be honest it was actually vanity that led me to get it out initially, thank God."
She had been given the all-clear after a biopsy, but decided to get it cut out.
"In its own strange way, it was a complete blessing. I said we need to get this sorted. The medical care was amazing and I bow my head to them and I bow my head to science.
"That's why I am here today and am able to be pregnant and happy and healthy."
Once removed, the tumour was sent off for analysis.
"I toddled off home, took a few days to repair, thinking that's gone, I just need to let it heal a little bit and get back into work. I went in to see my surgeon on a Monday morning and I was the first person he was to see. He couldn't give me any notice to bring anyone with me and it was the take-a-seat conversation which no one really wants to hear."
After being told she had thyroid cancer, she said she did not break down.
"I'm a pragmatist and just wanted to know how we will deal with this. We needed to get it sorted. I was back in the next week and they took the whole gland out and had a look around to make sure it hadn't spread. I was lucky. It was early and the treatment was very doable. I didn't have to go through chemotherapy."
She had radioactive iodine put on the tumour, some of which remained on her vocal chords.
"My surgeon realised my vocal chords are my bread and butter, using my voice is what I do on radio or telly and so I needed to make sure that was not affected so he had to leave a chunk of the tumour behind.
"We had to treat that and make sure it was sorted and gone."
Today, she said she felt very fortunate: "I was so lucky that the cancer manifested itself in such an obvious place, in my neck, and I could see it. If it was in my stomach or some other part of my body I would have been walking around not knowing it was there."
She advised anyone in the same situation to "listen to your body". She said: "Early detection is so important. I love doctors and nurses and what they do but they are not gods, they are human beings and things can be missed.
"Nobody knows your body better than you. If you feel something is out of whack, go for it. Don't wait for someone else to say get that checked. Just do it yourself."
She said she took medication every day to replace the thyroid and now she was pregnant doctors were keeping a close eye on her.