Tuesday 22 January 2019

'I even wrote down who all my makeup would go to' - young Irish woman who planned her own funeral during treatment for rare cancer

Shauntelle Tynan and her mother Leona on last night's Late Late Photo: RTE
Shauntelle Tynan and her mother Leona on last night's Late Late Photo: RTE

Rachel Farrell

A young Irish woman who was recently declared cancer free has spoken about how she planned her own funeral when she was told her cancer had spread.

Shauntelle Tynan (20) returned home from Texas this week where she underwent pioneering treatment for a rare form of cancer called Histiocytosis X.

After being diagnosed with the disease in 2015, Shauntelle moved to Houston, Texas for treatment after raising €700,000 from public donations.

Shauntelle's mum Leona said it was "surreal" to finally have her daughter back home in Ireland.

"I never stopped crying all day yesterday, it was so emotional to finally be bringing her home," she said on RTÉ's Late Late show.

"I always believed that we would bring her home but to get to that stage, to get on the plane and everything- it's surreal, I’m still pinching myself.

"I get to wake up with my three kids. There’s no better feeling in the world than to have your family where they’re supposed to be. Home is where you’re supposed to be."

While Shauntelle got to ring the ceremonial hospital bell to mark being cancer free, she admitted that she had started planning her own funeral at one stage during her treatment.

"It wasn’t dying that I was scared of, I just didn’t want to die, but I was there talking to my counsellor one day and she said ‘maybe this is the best thing to do for you, so you can be at ease if anything was to happen to you’," Shauntelle said.

"I was so scared at this point of when I die, what’s going to happen to my family. I just wanted to make it the best funeral and goodbye possible because that’s all I could think about."

The Carlow woman said she had organised the flowers and music, and had even decided who all her belongings should go to- including her beloved makeup collection.

"I wrote down that I wanted flowers upon flowers, I wanted all of my friends to have a huge part in some way.

"I even wrote who my makeup would go to, it's crazy the things that you think about. For music I had Footprints in the Sand by Leona Lewis."

Mum Leona said she didn't "entertain" Shauntelle's funeral plans but admitted it's something the family can look at lightly now.

Shauntelle Tynan with her family in Texas
Shauntelle Tynan with her family in Texas

"You laugh because you’re going to cry your eyes out otherwise, I wouldn’t entertain any of that when she would discuss it, and that was my way of coping. I refused to ever give up," she said.

Shauntelle said she has plenty of plans for the future, from catching up on the Irish food she missed while she was away, and going to college.

"I missed the food. The bread, spicebags," she said.

"I want to learn how to drive, I want to get a job, to go to college. I also want to advocate this cancer and get it out there because it’s so rare."

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