Sunday 19 January 2020

'I'm not scared, just heartbroken' - cancer now in Emma's brain

Mother of five planning to buy 'forever' home for her children

Emma Mhic Mhathúna hopes she has secured her children’s future. Photo: Collins Courts
Emma Mhic Mhathúna hopes she has secured her children’s future. Photo: Collins Courts
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Heartbroken mother-of-five Emma Mhic Mhathúna, whose cancer has spread to her brain, is determined to create a new family home for her children amid the stunning beauty of west Kerry.

Ms Mhic Mhathúna (37) revealed yesterday: "I found out the cancer has spread to my brain. I'm not scared, I am just heartbroken."

However, she is looking forward to realising her dream of moving her family to a former bed and breakfast home in Ballydavid outside Dingle.

She is now free to buy the house which will be their "forever" home.

It can be bought on the proceeds of some of the €7.5m settlement she received as a result of the CervicalCheck scandal which left her getting three incorrect smear test results.

She told the Irish Independent: "The house is not bought yet but we are in the process."

The native Dubliner opened up about the heart-wrenching news from her doctors this week that her terminal cervical cancer - which was already affecting her lungs and spine - had spread to her brain.

"The disease is on the left side of my brain so the symptoms will be seizures, loss of speech, concentration, losing of words."

She is struggling to come to terms with the "unpredictability" and "uncertainty" of the disease.

And despite the supportive solace of family and friends, it has left her with a sense of isolation.

"I don't like how quick it's going. It's just I have no control over it, in some ways I wish it was all over," Ms Mhic Mhathúna said.

"When you're in a cancer diagnosis people don't understand you, they think they're doing you a favour by telling you you're going to be alright."

The devoted mother said she had been upfront about her new diagnosis with her children who range in age from two to 16 years old.

Her parents are helping out with caring for the close-knit youngsters.

The financial settlement for which she fought so intensely will allow them the security of being able to stay together in the future if they need housekeepers and childminders.

Speaking from her hospital bed where she is undergoing more tests, she said she was currently not on any treatment. This is because she also suffers from Crohn's disease, which causes inflammation of the digestive tract, and makes her unsuitable for forms of immunotherapy drugs.

"They are trying to see if there are other clinical trials for people with Crohn's. Not all of us can take immunotherapy drugs," she said.

"I am in the best of care - but it's very sad."

She is finding comfort in her faith and recalls how every morning on her way to Scoil Chaoimhín in Dublin she would light a candle.

The €7.5m sounded a lot but it was not enormous when broken down among five children, she said.

She tries to put on a happy front for her children but is distraught that other women could also find themselves in a similar predicament after getting a wrong test result.

Irish Independent

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