Three generations of women are an example of hope in the fight against cancer
Patricia Carey remembers the day she discovered she had breast cancer. It was February 2006. “I was in the shower when I felt a lump under my arm. I knew immediately it wasn’t right. I was shocked. I couldn’t get through to my doctor fast enough.”
After a BreastCheck, Patricia (80) was told she had stage 3 cancer and had metastasized. She lay awake that night in fear.
“I started praying. I thought of my husband and children, I didn’t want to die.”
She remembers breaking the news to her daughter, Schira Lane, who was heavily pregnant at the time.
“I hated telling my daughter about this, but she immediately wanted to know what she could do,” said an emotional Patricia. Schira (49) supported her mother every day during chemotherapy and finally got the all-clear.
In 2020, Schira was on a family vacation while skiing. “I had a really weird tiredness. One morning I was in the shower and found a lump under my breast. I got cold. I knew right away it was like mom cancer. It was everything you read about: it was pea-sized, it was hard, it was small, it didn’t hurt, and it was fixed.
“Mom never voiced her fears [about dying] for me and I didn’t go there with any of my kids. But the first night I found the bump, I spent the whole night thinking, “These kids are too young, this can’t happen.” After that, I had to get into a positive attitude.”
Having already supported her mother with chemotherapy, she said: “I had great confidence in the treatments that were available because of my mother and I knew my good fortune to be alive in 2020 and that since my mother’s diagnosis more treatments were available. I was so aware of how far things had changed and I knew I might not need chemotherapy for my type of stage 1 cancer.”
Schira waited during lockdown to see if she needed chemotherapy to fight the disease.
“I went to Mom and Dad every day. They were cocooning so I sat in the garden and they sat by the kitchen door and since my mother had been through it herself she really got a feel for what I was going through waiting. She gave me so much support and gave me so much courage. We couldn’t hug but all her love was in her eyes. All summer she just smiled at me across the garden.
“I was there when I got the call to say I didn’t need chemotherapy because I had a low incidence of cancer coming back. I remember Mama’s two little fists going up behind the kitchen pane. I was very aware that this was the absolute luck of my time.”
Schira finally got the all-clear, then the thoughts of both women turned to their daughter Mimi (26).
“When my grandmother got cancer, I was lucky that I was only 10 and didn’t realize it,” Mimi said. “But when I got home and heard my mum tell me she had it, my world stopped. She has always been a very positive person and so she didn’t tell me that she had breast cancer, but said: “Mimi, I have a little bit of breast cancer.” We were standing at the island in the kitchen and I had no words. All I could say was “Oh Mom” and I threw my arms around her.
“I was afraid that I might be next because both my grandmother and my mother had it. But because of breakthrough treatments over the last 10 years, my mother was able to get genetic testing done and it sorted itself out.
“That was a great relief. We’ve always been best friends, but breast cancer has brought us closer. Even when my mother had the surgery, I was shaking and my grandmother said, ‘Right, we’re going to have lunch.’ She was my best friend that day.”
The three spoke as they launched the 100,000 in 30 days event which raised €1.7million for Breast Cancer Ireland last year. The organizers are calling on everyone to join the #pinkarmy and attend the June event. Registration is now open at www.100kin30days.ie.
The launch comes after reports in recent days that researchers at Cambridge University have uncovered a ‘treasure chest’ of clues to the causes of cancer that will pave the way for better treatments and strategies to fight the disease.
Patricia, a former nurse, said: “People say there is so much cancer now, but that’s because with modern technology it’s being diagnosed earlier and earlier. Far more people recover from cancer than they don’t, and that’s not saying enough. That’s why all this research and fundraising is so important.”
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/living-with-cancer/three-generations-of-women-an-example-of-hope-in-cancer-fight-41581725.html Three generations of women are an example of hope in the fight against cancer