Annette with Saoirse and Dara before her diagnosis
Annette Faherty is a teacher, mother of two children and a breast cancer survivor.
The week of her 40th birthday, Annette was diagnosed with the disease.
The Templemore woman's diagnosis came just two weeks after visiting her GP with concerns about a dimple on her breast.
“I went into hospital at half nine that morning, and at half twelve, I had been diagnosed with cancer, so it was a huge, huge shock.
“Number one, I didn’t know that was possible.
I thought you get a letter, and it says you know, biopsies results won't be back, but with my particular kind of cancer, they knew by looking at it straight away that it was cancer,” said Annette.
She was diagnosed with a type of cancer called HER2-Positive.
According to the Irish Cancer Society, HER2 is a protein that helps cancer cells grow.
One in five women has HER2-Positive breast cancer.
Early detection was vital to Annette’s recovery, and she is sharing her story to encourage others to get checked out if they have any concerns.
“If I had put it off that day for a couple of weeks. When you see something like that on your body, you initially think, you know gosh, look, I’ll be grand, I will just put it off.
You know there's no lump there. I could have thought that, and if I had, my story might not be so positive,” said Annette.
Three years on, and Annette is doing well
She journals and loves to write poetry.
“It’s been a new beginning for me because I feel like I have a second chance. I feel very, very lucky despite everything I have gone through.
I feel strong. I feel like I could do anything,” said Annette.
Annette is also passionate about sharing her story to help others.
However, Annette says some days are still hard, and she still struggles with fatigue.
“It's not perfect. I don’t want it to sound easy or plain sailing; it’s not. It’s still tough, but I surround myself with the people I love. I have great friends who I appreciate more than ever.”
According to Annette, the people around her, particularly those recovering from cancer, were essential for her recovery.
“There was a lady who met me out walking, and I don't think she knew how much of a help she was to me until recently when I said it to her. An amazing woman. She said you are going to get through this. You can do it, and it changed my mindset,” said Annette.
She would like to make people aware of the support she received from a Thurles-based organisation called Suir Haven.
Suir Haven provides education and practical and emotional support to people who have received a cancer diagnosis and their families.
Counselling, reflexology, yoga are some of the services they provide.
“They are an amazing service and an amazing bunch of people,” said Annette
She also says her local services like shops, hairdressers and the schools were of great help and support while she was in treatment.
“I wasn't able to travel far because I was so sick and like they could come to the house a lot offered to come to the house, and they were so amazing to me
It really reminded me how much kindness we have in our world that we don’t see,” said Annette.
“Anybody going through cancer or any other illness, go to the schools and tell them what you are going through, tell them what you need and develop an open relationship with them.
It makes a big difference to you at home and to your children in school. Our Lady, in particular to my daughter, was amazing to her. They were so kind to her.”
Annette advises anyone in cancer treatment to be open about what they are going through if they can.
Annette says she has always been open with her two children Saoirse and Dara but understands that not everyone can be.
“I was very lucky that I had a positive story. I know not everyone can be open. Your journey is not the same as mine but be as open as you can,” said Annette.
She advises anyone supporting a loved one going through cancer treatment to be there for the person and treat them as you always would.
She advises doing normal activities like going for coffee, shopping or even complaining about your day with your loved one.
“They are the very same person no matter how sick they are in that bed. No matter how sleepy they are, they are the very same person that they always have been,” said Annette.
She urges anyone with any concerns about their breasts to visit their GP and get checked out.
“Know your own normal in your breasts. The key message would be to know your own normal, know what's right for you and if you have any worry get it checked,” said Annette.
October is breast cancer awareness month.
The Irish Cancer Society's Care for Your Pair Campaign encourages women to check their breasts for signs of breast cancer.
They are asking people to check in with two friends and ask them to check their breasts as well.
The signs of breast cancer can be found at cancer.ie/careforyourpair.
Just like Annette, The Irish Cancer Society advises anyone with any concerns to see their GP.
Finally, Annette advises anyone in cancer treatment and recovery to try to find ways to stay positive.
“You can get through anything that's put in front of you. Just stay positive and find something positive in everyday. Find something to laugh about; have a giggle,” said Annette.
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