Sunday 20 October 2019

'Lucky' Yvonne in plea over cost of cancer test

Yvonne Ni Lionnain in Galway
Yvonne Ni Lionnain in Galway

Caroline Crawford

A YOUNG woman who battled breast cancer has urged officials to reduce the cost of the test for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 cancer genes here.

Yvonne Ni Lionnain, from Roscam, Co Galway, was just 33 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She lost her mother, Maureen, to cancer in 2008, followed by her aunt, Ester, two years later.

Because of her illness, Yvonne was given the test for free – it came back negative. Her two sisters and cousins are now eager to take the test, but the cost of €2,000 is too much.

"I was told if my test was positive my sisters would have the test for free, but because it was negative the test would cost €2,000 each. That was one particular hospital. Because the cancer came from my mother's side my sisters have a 50/50 chance of having the gene," she said.

Yvonne revealed how friends in South Africa were able to get the test for the equivalent of €300. "My family could fly to South Africa, take the test and fly home for the same price," she said.

"The test won't tell you if you will get cancer but it can pick up the genetic link. I would urge anyone who thinks their family history is significant enough to think about it," she added.

Yvonne, who first spoke about her battle in an interview on Raidio na Gaeltachta, praised Angelina Jolie and Michelle Heaton for speaking out and raising awareness.

The pre-school teacher told the Irish Independent she was diagnosed last May after finding a lump on her breast. She was put on the list for a breast check. However, instead of waiting for the call, Yvonne decided to go private.

"The week I started my chemotherapy I got the letter for my breast check appointment as well. If I had waited it could have been very different – the way I look at it I was very lucky," she added.

Irish Independent

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