'My first question was, am I going to be able to have more children?' - Irish mother on surviving cancer
An Irish mother has spoken about her recovery from breast cancer, describing the depression and anxiety she experienced in the aftermath of her treatment.
Sarah Murray was diagnosed with breast cancer after discovering a lump under her arm which she checked while taking her then one-year-old daughter for a routine doctor's appointment.
"I was 32, I didn't think anything was wrong with me, I thought I was perfectly healthy – I had a 12 month old little girl, Sadie. I was bringing her to the GP for her vaccinations when I noticed over the last few weeks I had a swelling under my right arm. I’d been doing a lot of exercise and training, I thought I pulled a muscle," she told The Late Late Show in advance of Daffodil Day next week.
"My GP sent me for an ultrasound and I knew straight away from the radiographer - she asked me had I lost weight, I said, 'I've just had a baby and I’m exercising'.
"She asked, 'Are you tired?' and I said, 'Yes but I've just gone back to work.
"There were all these questions –I was biopsied, mammogrammed, there were further biopsies on my breast and from that, I was sent to see Professor Arnold Hill, who gave me the diagnosis that I had early stage breast cancer but it was quite aggressive. It had entered into my lymph nodes under my arm. I was sent on to oncology."
Ms Murray said her immediate concern was whether or not she would be able to have another child.
"My first question to my oncologist wasn't, am I going to survive, it was, 'am I going to be able to have more children?' You don’t know what goes through your head in these things. Then they didn't give me the option of freezing eggs, they said it was too aggressive, he said I have to take the chance with the chemotherapy, mastectomy, auxiliary node clearance, radiotherapy."
"They told me that I was young and the chances of my fertility coming back after chemotherapy were high enough but they couldn't guarantee it."
She said it was after her treatment ended that she began experiencing depression and anxiety, which she was warned might occur by her medical team, crediting her family and friends for helping her get through it.
"I went through everything and I was on a roll and it was when everything finished that everything hit me," she explained.
"I got severely depressed, I suffered severely with anxiety. There was a period of about a year where I found it difficult to leave the house.
"The Irish Cancer Society did a lot of work through The Ark centre, I did some of their programmes there. But after your treatment is over your medical team is kind of finishes with you. They said it would be hard but I didn't realise how hard it would be. I was trying to look after my daughter and lucky I had really good child care and support network.
"People expect you to be better – your hair has grown back, you’re looking well, you’re back to work, you’re back to your normal life. But there’s a fear always of it coming back."
Ms Murray ended her segment on a high, announcing she's six months pregnant with her second child.