Wednesday 24 January 2018

'I'm afraid cancer has come knocking yet again'

Mary Fogarty

Bray woman Emma Hannigan is battling cancer for the ninth time.

Emma is a bestselling author as well as official Bray ambassador alongside Katie Taylor.

'I've had a bit of knock health wise,' said Emma. 'I'm afraid cancer has come knocking yet again.'

She began radiation treatment last week with the cancer in her neck and on the back of her head this time.

'There's no need for alarm,' said the local mum. 'Nobody is allowed run about setting off fire extinguishers or yelling frantically!'

Emma said that the hardest part has been 'the awful job of telling family and friends again. That never gets easier.'

Like superstar Angelina Jolie, Emma is a carrier of the BRCA gene. Women with the gene are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Emma had a double mastectomy and her ovaries removed as a precautionary measure in 2006. However she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, and numerous other times up to this ninth occurrence. She has endured intensive rounds of treatment and lost her hair twice.

Emma smiles all the time. She is bright and bubbly, intelligent, and a warm and funny storyteller.

She began writing when in her hospital bed in 2005, for something to do, and has made a full-time career out of that accidental discovery of her love for the craft.

In her usual spirited way, the author is not lying down underneath her diagnosis. 'I'm planning on dancing my way through,' she said. 'I've signed up for "Strictly against Breast Cancer" which will be held in the convention centre on December 7.' And she'll be tackling the iconic final dance from Dirty Dancing on the night. 'Nobody puts Emma in the corner,' it would seem.

Amid the news of her diagnosis there was a piece of good news for Emma. Just before starting treatment she won the Irish Tattler Women of the Year award in the Arts and Literature category.

'I honestly didn't think for a second I might have won!' she said. 'Thank goodness I've spoken in public enough to be able to cope with making a speech - but I had nothing prepared. I have no idea what I said, it's all a blur. The applause and sea of smiling faces are all I recall. I'll remember that feeling for the rest of my life.'

Life remains very busy for the indefatigable writer, who spoke at the Dublin book festival last weekend alongside Emily Hourican and Roisin Ingle.

'I'm a whirlwind of positivity,' said Emma, whose latest offering 'Driving Home for Christmas' is currently out in paperback.

Wicklow People

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