Sunday 22 September 2019

'This is what I’m supposed to do now' - Inspiring mum who gave corporate job the boot after cancer diagnosis

Holly Kennedy
Holly Kennedy
Holly Kennedy will publish Happy Magazine in November.

When Holly Kennedy (33) was diagnosed with breast cancer, she’d just had her baby. Family life had been joyous, and she had been, she had thought, in the peak of her health.

Cancer, she feared, was about to take this all away.

But as soon as she was diagnosed, Holly began to re-evaluate her life. A fork in the road, so to speak, started to appear.

“It all started last July when I was undergoing my own treatment and I was looking around for a support resource when I couldn’t find one. I’m a journalism graduate and a graphic designer, and it really started to feel like ‘this is what I’m supposed to do’. It felt like an obvious step to take.”

Holly (33) began to blog about her recovery every day, offering a daily dose of positivity to other cancer patients.

“I posted every day since then. I have about 400 posts on the website now, so I have a really good content base now.”

This year, Holly finished her treatment. And instead of returning to her role as a graphic designer for Kerry Foods, she decided to take a leap of faith.

She gave corporate life the boot, decided to stay at home with her son Andrew (2) full-time, and take another leap of faith with her blog. Next November, she will publish her first hard copy issue of The Happy Magazine.

“I thought this is the time to take the leap.”

“The security blanket of the job is gone now but it felt like the right thing to do. The question I ask myself every day is ‘what did I want to find last year when I was going through the treatment? What was I looking for and what couldn’t I find? How would this reach me a year ago when I was in that place?”

She added: “Even when the treatment is over, you’ve still got the mental side of things: Will the cancer come back? Have I done enough to change my lifestyle and be healthy now?’”

“You’re never going back to who you were before the diagnosis”

Some 10,000 copies of Happy Magazine will be distributed to 13 major Irish hospitals which have daffodil centres and offer cancer treatment in Ireland in November.

“The main aim of the magazine is to reach people when they’re in the waiting room or the chemotherapy ward. That’s my dream.”

“It’ll be distributed on a patient numbers basis. The hospitals in Dublin have higher patient numbers so they’ll get more copies. It’s going to be free to cancer patients. In terms of printing and distributions, it’ll be funded by relevant and responsible advertising.”

“Whoever is advertising must offer something positive and helpful and specific to someone going through a cancer journey. So far the response for advertising has been great.”

The magazine won't be a medical information resource, Holly explained, but rather a handbook to help patients stay focussed and positive during their treatment.

“It’s the full body approach, keeping yourself happy, healthy, eating well, meditation, yoga, what products to use on your skin and hair, and what books to read that aren’t going to mention cancer, which is very important too.”

"When I was sitting down for chemotherapy I was looking around for something to read. I just assumed there would be a cancer magazine but there wasn’t. And I thought, how is there nothing for this to tell me things I can’t ask my oncologist? I can’t bother my oncologist with questions like ‘should I change my toothpaste?’”

Now Holly is enjoying the new chapter in her life where she can spend time with her two-year-old son Andrew (2).

“He is just my life, honestly. And that’s another really amazing thing. I can do it at home and be a full-time mum at the same time. They're two jobs that I absolutely love and are keeping me positive and focused at the same time.”

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