'Taylor Swift is right - my mum's shock cancer diagnosis taught me that awareness and prevention is key' - Daniella Moyles
Published 10/04/2015 | 17:44
Model, broadcaster and columnist Daniella Moyles has applauded Taylor Swift's decision to reveal that her mother has cancer, as she knows from personal experience how important early detection is.
To me physical and mental health is paramount. I learnt at a very early age that a compromise to your wellbeing stops everything in its tracks. My Mam, aged 39, was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in my Junior Cert year of secondary school, young enough to be completely overwhelmed and old enough to understand exactly what was happening.
It was a shock, the biggest in my life to that point. I talked to nobody and in hindsight dealt with it very badly. I had no sisters, a much younger brother who thankfully didn’t grasp the situation and a father who was trying his best to cope.
It was a lonely year and a half of living with various relatives and trying to maintain a normal routine while dealing with persistent fear and the sight of my hero - my beautiful, strong, best friend vomiting into a basin while ridged with a back brace after her second operation in a week to remove more infected cells from her underarm.
This was before we even began navigating the ordeal that is chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
I’m so grateful that almost ten years later my Mam is still my hero, still my beautiful, strong, best friend. She fought and she won and that’s because she caught her cancer early. This is invaluable.
Since my Mam was diagnosed there has been so much great coverage by high profile people about their own battles with cancer, from the courageous Jade Goody who is responsible for saving the lives of countless women, to the admirable pursuits’ by Christina Applegate, Michelle Heaton and Angelina Jolie in the name of prevention and most recently Taylor Swift’s announcement that her own mother has been diagnosed with cancer. Awareness is key. Prevention is key. Start young and make it an annual thing, like you do for your NCT. You’re health is so much more important than these mandatory errands that distract us and cause us so much stress.
Read more: Taylor Swift reveals her mother has cancer
Avail of the benefits of modern medicine, I’m 26 and I have just this year gotten myself into the public family risk assessment clinic at St. James hospital. I felt it was necessary because my mam, my aunt and my cousin have all suffered from breast or ovarian cancers that are linked and can be passed on by a gene. I want to know if I have this gene so I can make the necessary adjustments to my life. My GP referred me to the clinic that has now referred me for gene testing and I will know by the end of the year. This option is available to everyone. If I don’t have the gene I will continue to get yearly mammograms and smear tests and if I do it will be every six months. Nothing drastic will happen, I may bear in mind that children need to come a little earlier and my lifestyle will undoubtedly be a healthier, more conscious one. But knowing is liberating and it puts me in control.
On a side note, we never think of it but us Irish are actually very susceptible to skin cancers also. I get a yearly screening at Mole Scan on Fitzwilliam Lane and have had to have one lesion removed from my foot. This screening coupled with a mammogram, a smear test and a general checkup with my GP including bloods is my gift to myself every year, more valuable than any material thing I could ever buy. It gives me peace of mind, keeps me grateful and focused on the right priorities.
So myself and my friend Tay Swift would like to encourage you to get yourself and your loved ones in for a checkup, and then pencil it in again for the same day next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.
Follow Daniella on Twitter here.