What It's Like Facing Cancer At 23
Dare To Care is back this September, and today on The Last Word we heard from Áine O'Connell, who shared her story of facing cancer at 23 years old.
Áine was diagnosed with Stage 1 Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the end of April this year, a common cancer among younger people.
As she told Matt Cooper, she went for a routine ultrasound after noticing a lump in her neck which she assumed to be a swollen gland. As she felt physically fine, she "didn't think twice about it." She was shocked when she was told it might be cancer.
"I've never been so scared in my entire life. I burst into tears and ran out of the office, but I got the scary part out of the way then, and by the time I was formally diagnosed a month later I got used to the idea."
Áine describes the gruelling chemotherapy process as "the medical version of being punched in the face for no reason. You're going into hospital feeling perfect and coming out a complete wreck. I was a shell of a person afterwards."
She started losing her hair around three weeks into the chemotherapy, which she found particularly difficult.
Áine has written a blog about her journey, and she says it was a helpful process.
"There was a lot of figuring out to do, so I decided to write about it partly for myself and partly for other people. If one person goes to their GP as a result of me writing this, I'll have done a good job."
Áine finished chemo two weeks ago and is starting to get her strength back. She says, "It's so good to be finished and I'm so lucky that I can walk away from this now - I shouldn't need any other follow-up therapy."
"I'm really lucky to have that chapter finished now."
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