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'I'll plan for the worst and hope for the best - just like brave mum'

SCHOOL teacher Maire Ivanna Heneghan (33) is currently undergoing genetic testing at the National Centre for Medical Genetics in Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin following her mum's death from cancer in 2010. Doctors have advised her to assume she has a mutated TP53 gene.

'MY MOTHER Mona was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2002.

She was one of nine children – incredibly six of them had cancer. Three of them passed away from different forms of cancer.

Mum underwent treatment and remained cancer-free until 2007.

As a family we were devastated when we heard that it had returned. The disease was not debilitating or immediately life-threatening.

She attended frequent check-ups and vigilantly checked for growths, which, when discovered, were recorded, monitored and some removed and examined.

Cancer opened her eyes to the importance of those around her.

She seized every opportunity that came her way and created her own happy experiences with family and friends.

Christmas 2009 was when a deadly brain tumour made its appearance.

Following surgery and a biopsy she was told that with successful treatment she could hope to live for approximately 15 months.

It's difficult to describe the numbness I felt holding her hand as the word "months" echoed in my head.

Despite the shock, my mum was adamant that something good would come out of her illness.

She had always fervently believed that the concentration of cancers among her siblings was not coincidental or solely as a result of lifestyle.

My mother applied for genetic testing from the National Centre for Medical Genetics (NCMG) based at Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin.

Unfortunately, she did not live long enough to be tested herself, but we are presently proceeding with testing to ascertain if we have a mutated cancer-suppressing gene.

I believe knowledge is power.

While I don't spend nights worrying about getting cancer, it is a fact that the odds are not in my favour.

But I'm not going to bury my head in the sand – I'll plan for the worst and hope for the best.'