Thank you to everyone who helped me recover from cancer
Published 29/09/2016 | 02:30
I am 41 and recovering from a nightmare year after a breast cancer diagnosis. Thank God my prognosis is excellent. I am a nurse and healthcare lecturer and was diagnosed in August 2015 after finding a cyst.
Nothing can describe the shock, despair and unimaginable fear of a cancer diagnosis but the effect on a young mother with a young family is catastrophic.
My children - Alexandra (15), Zara (12), Sean (10) and Donncha (6) - have been amazing. We told them the truth from day one, as advised by my oncologist.
Through the 20 weeks of chemotherapy, the operation, radiotherapy and disruption it caused at home, they stayed positive and got on with life. We talked about it openly at home and they were happy they knew exactly what was going on. They got used to the regular chemo trips, to the days Mam couldn't get up, to the hospital stays when needed - and never complained.
We asked the children if they wanted to talk to someone about things but they were happy with talking at home and being involved in my care at home. I accepted the care of a psychiatrist and it was the best thing I did, as it helped us all get through the upset, uncertainty and despair.
It's easy for everyone to say 'be positive' and they are right. But you have to live it to know exactly how hard it is.
No one handles a cancer diagnosis the same way and there should be no shame in not being positive all the time. There should be no shame in taking the help of mental health professionals. I am eternally grateful to my oncology team, surgeon and psychiatric team, who saved my life and made the last year that little bit easier.
I have lost two very good friends to breast cancer over the last 10 years and both were young women. One of the things that shocked me is that most of the women I have spoken to since my diagnosis said they never check their breasts. I am urging all women to check their breasts regularly.
I want no woman to go through what I have just gone through but early detection has left me with a positive prognosis.
My husband, mum, sister Annie and close friends were my rocks through it all and I just want to say 'thank you'. We don't acknowledge the impact a cancer journey has on loved ones, especially the children.
Clonakilty, Co Cork
Contradictory views on abortion
Colette Browne writes a contradictory article supporting her pro-choice view (Irish Independent, September 27) 'Pro-choice campaign now needs to look beyond repeal of Eighth'.
She states pro-life people believe pro-choice people airbrush the right to life of the foetus from the debate. Yet this is exactly what she does in comparing human organs for donation from a dead person with a living foetus capable of growing and eventually being born.
She says we are "denying women the same autonomy we unthinkingly give a corpse", as permission has to be sought for organ donations. It is a truly bizarre comparison.
How can you compare an organ in a dead person with a living foetus whose life deserves constitutional protection? This kind of thinking underlines the arguments of pro-choice people who use such selfish terminology as "my body, my choice" and "bodily autonomy", which completely ignores the humanity of the foetus that the woman is carrying.
I wish to take issue with a number of statements and claims made by Colette Browne in her article about the pro-choice campaign.
She claims to want "a change to our draconian abortion laws". What draconian abortion law? Ireland is consistently named as one of the safest places in the world to have a baby.
She also claims: "The success of this grassroots political movement is due to the hard work of countless activists." She's leaving out a huge factor that is the vast sum of money being given to pro-abortion groups by people like American billionaire George Soros.
This fact has largely been ignored by the Irish media but should be highlighted, as it is a disgraceful attempt by a non-Irish citizen to try to influence our laws for his own agenda.
She seems to be missing the point entirely of this whole debate by not thinking of the rights of the foetus. She states: "In contrast, we don't ask pregnant women if they consent to continuing with their pregnancy. We strip them of that choice because of an insistence that foetal life be sustained at almost any cost."
What about the choice of the foetus? Who is she to say the foetus should not be "sustained"? She also states: "Your opinion about her choice is irrelevant." Again I ask her to think about the rights and choice of the foetus. The foetus is alive and so I'm sure would choose to stay alive and has every right to.
Her claim that "a law like this would recognise that most Irish people believe that women in the early stages of pregnancy should be offered a choice" is extraordinary. This is a hugely arrogant claim. How does she know what most Irish people believe?
Colette also states: "The call for repeal is a call for some empathy in the law" yet the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution seems to have enough empathy in the law already by protecting the right to life of the unborn and with equal right to life of the mother. That sounds fairly empathetic to me.
The sight of a group of AAA-PBP TDs in the Dail wearing 'repeal' jumpers is almost incredible and deeply ironic. Social justice for all - except the unborn, it seems.
Glenageary, Co Dublin
Charities mired in scandal
Regarding the recent scandals about greed and corruption in major charities, I do not understand why anybody is surprised. Charities are only needed because many people are hopelessly incompetent and frequently corrupt.
The first major function of any person who sets up a charity is to organise the collection of lots of money, often by paying commission to the collectors.
Then, just like politicians, they have to try to work out how best to use all the money to solve the problems that they have never really tried to solve before.
Surprise, surprise - many of them end up corrupt and useless like politicians.
That is why we have, and always will have, hundreds of charities and politicians preying on us while the lives of the majority of decent people, eg, the homeless, cancer sufferers and elderly, get worse and worse.
Before any charity spokesperson rears up on his or her expensive high horse, may I ask if he or she has ever heard of a charity (or government) that did such a good job that it is now no longer needed?
Tinahely, Co Wicklow