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Breast Check saved my life -- I urge all women have the test

IRISH author Kate Thompson has spoken about undergoing treatment for breast cancer -- while urging Irish women to attend their Breast Check appointments.

Kate, who is best known for playing Terry in RTE's Glenroe, discovered that she had breast cancer last October, after a routine appointment in St Vincent 's Hospital.

She told the Herald that had it not been for the vital breast check, her cancer -- invasive lobular cancer -- would still be there.

Her treatment, which will involve a period of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and injections of herceptin, started last Thursday -- hot on the heels of the launch for her latest book, That Gallagher Girl.

"It's not easy," she revealed. "The first session is always going to be the most arduous, I was six hours on a drip, but I went into the treatment room and I brought in my laptop and some food. I've also got an incredible and helpful carpool of girlfriends who are on hand as well.

"You adapt your life to recognising the symptoms and side-effects of drugs and in a few days, my white blood cells will drop alarmingly and there could be more more serious side-effects then."

Kate is very conscious that early detection has been key to fighting her cancer, and she intends to help create awareness about Breast Check once she has finished her treatment at the end of the year.

"If I hadn't kept my appointment, I would still have the tumour in my breast. The tumour that I have can't be detected manually, so there are no advance warning signs at all.

"I went to St Vincent's, and I had just delivered my page proofs of my book, and I rang a friend and said that it's such a beautiful day and I'm going to cycle on my bike to Vincent's, and I did, fit as a fiddle.

"I'm very, very glad that I had delivered the page proofs because if I hadn't, it would have been so easy to say I'm too busy to do this. But as far as I'm concerned it's vital that everyone does it."

Kate is determined to retain a positive outlook throughout her treatment, and she says being diagnosed has given her an added appreciation for her husband Malcolm Douglas and her daughter Clara, her family and close friends.

"Of course tears have been shed but I'm not going to go on with that sentimental jag. You just pick up the pieces and get on with it."