Sunday 18 November 2018

'I was 17 weeks' pregnant when my cancer was found'

Suzanne Roche, who battled cancer while pregnant, and her daughter Zoe
Suzanne Roche, who battled cancer while pregnant, and her daughter Zoe
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

Dublin mum Suzanne Roche (34) has revealed she was diagnosed with cancer when she was 17 weeks' pregnant with her first child.

It was a swollen lymph node in her neck which alerted a doctor to the fact something was wrong in March 2016. Further tests revealed Suzanne had Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"It was a big shock," said Suzanne, who lives in Skerries, north Co Dublin.

Within three weeks, she had begun chemotherapy treatment. Suzanne underwent 12 rounds of the treatment, eight of them while she was pregnant.

At 30 weeks into her pregnancy, medics stopped for a break to allow Suzanne time to have her baby.

Zoe was born in September 2016 at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, much to the delight of Suzanne and her husband Will.

"She was perfect," said Suzanne.

The busy mother was then able to resume her treatment. "I had to have a PET scan first and that came back clear, which was great news," she said.

On medical advice she finished the recommended course of chemotherapy, even though the scan was clear.

"I went back into chemotherapy quite soon after that, when Zoe was around three weeks old. I finished it in November 2016," she said.

She actually finished her chemotherapy on the same day as her dad, Greg Scollan, at St Vincent's University Hospital - he had been diagnosed with a different type of cancer a month after Suzanne.

She recalled the worst part of the treatment was the extreme exhaustion: "The most incredible fatigue you can imagine."

Suzanne added: "While it was a very stressful, anxious and, to be honest, a rollercoaster of an experience, going through it gave me an insight into what other cancer patients go through and, in the great scheme of things, I was quite lucky."

Thankfully, all her tests have since come back clear.

Her father suffered a relapse last December, and is currently undergoing treatment again.

He is hoping to join Suzanne for the upcoming Colour Dash fundraiser in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.

There will be four 5km dashes in June - in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. Registration is €30 per person (over 12) and €5 per child (under 12). See: www.cancer.ie for details.

Irish Independent

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