By Marguerite Kiely
At just 22 years of age, Jennifer Sheahan didn’t expect to be diagnosed with cancer. But in June last year, that is exactly what happened to the Newmarket native.
While lying in bed one evening, Jennifer did a breast self-check and found a lump on her left breast. After numerous tests, scans and biopsies, she was diagnosed with triple-positive breast cancer and prescribed six rounds of chemotherapy and 14 rounds of immunotherapy.
Jennifer is urging the people of Cork to support cancer patients by getting involved with the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day on Friday 24 March.
Jennifer’s message is that it is possible to get breast cancer at any age.
“I’m 22 and that’s quite young. If you find something and even if it’s just a cyst, at least you have got it checked. You’re better off and I know it’s this thing of ‘oh, what if it’s cancer and I’ll have to go through all this’ but it’s better than letting it go, and potentially being given far worse news later on.”
During Jennifer’s diagnosis, she used the Irish Cancer Society Peer Support Programme which she says she found very helpful. “Just having that community there makes it a lot more normal, even though it’s not a normal thing. It’s trying to find that sense of normality. It’s like you’re living in a strange, alternate reality when you receive a diagnosis like this. Knowing that other people are going through the same and that you’re not alone makes it easier to digest.”
“I know it’s tough but I think there’s an awful lot of comfort to be found in the cancer community. I’m well aware that my story is rare at my age but if by sharing my story I can help someone, that would be something.”
The Irish Cancer Society provides services and supports to patients and their families across Cork each year, including 2,111 free counselling sessions, 678 nights of in-home night nursing for cancer patients in their final days, and 1,795 free lifts to get patients safely to and from their hospital chemotherapy appointments in 2022.
They are calling on the public to take part to show solidarity and support for anyone affected by cancer. The Society is also looking for volunteers to sell their Daffodil Pins in Mahon Point Shopping Centre, Douglas Shopping Centre and Wilton Shopping Centre across Saturday 25 and 26 March.
Irish Cancer Society CEO Averil Power said: “At the Irish Cancer Society we want to support every single person in Ireland affected by cancer. We typically receive 3% of our funding from the State. It’s only because of the generous support of the Irish public we are able to provide our free services and fund life-changing cancer research projects.”
If you are interested in helping out, register at cancer.ie/daffodilday.