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04th Oct 2018

Tanya’s mastectomy at age 24 proves cancer doesn’t discriminate

Louise Carroll

Brought to you by The Irish Cancer Society. 

“It was both a shock and a relief.”

In February 2017, Tanya Dobbyn from Waterford found a pea-size lump in her breast. She was just 24-years-of-age.

In May of the same year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and started a year of chemotherapy treatment. In June, she was confirmed to have the BRCA1+ gene. Learning this, she made the difficult decision to have a double mastectomy the following November.

“It went well, and I don’t regret my decision,” she says.

But it’s the fact that Tanya was so young, just age 24, that highlights the importance of knowing how to check for lumps in our breasts at home, and if we do find anything suspicious, we need to take the time to go to our GP.

When Tanya found the pea-size lump, she had her GP examine it just one week later and although her GP thought she was too young for breast cancer, Tanya was referred for further tests which revealed she had cancer. Tanya says;

“It was both a shock and relief.”

A shock that she was going to have to go through this at such a young age, but a relief that she was now on the road to getting help and things were looking positive as she found the lump early on.

Thankfully, during her course of chemo, and a few days before Christmas, she received the all clear.

“It was the best gift I could have hoped for. My mother was diagnosed mid-May and is just finished her chemotherapy, so we’re celebrating every milestone!”

Tanya is adamant about helping other young women to understand why it’s so important to check our breasts and most importantly, KNOW HOW. The chances are, you won’t have breast cancer, but it’s much better to catch it early so as treatment is efficient and better able to fight the cancer as it won’t have had the time to spread.

Over 70 percent of breast cancer cases occur in women over the age of 50. However, ALL AGES need to be extremely vigilant and check their breasts regularly. Learn more about the signs of breast cancer here, on the Irish Cancer Society website.

During Tanya’s treatment, she sought support from her local Irish Cancer Society Daffodil Centre (these can be found in hospitals nationwide) and got free booklets on what to expect during treatment and ways to reduce the risks in the future. This is one of a number of free services funded by public donations. Tanya says;

“The information is clear and easy to understand, especially when you are in such shock after the initial diagnosis. I took home the leaflets on how to do a breast check to give to my friends and family. It hangs on your door so it’s a handy reminder and shows how to do a breast check properly.”

The good news is, you too can help and support women affected by breast cancer this October by getting out your cups for cancer, and hosting a Cups Against Breast Cancer coffee morning. This helps to raise vital funds for breast cancer research and free services to support breast cancer patients and their families. You can register now and make a BIG difference to countless lives. And to finish – some wise words from the cancer fighter herself. Tanya says;

“For future women, and men faced with this battle, I want them to know they are never alone. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and find out all your options. If you need help, just ask. Reach out. It’s perfectly okay to be angry, to cry. Let it all out. Don’t feel bad if you feel tired. You will have good and bad days. Don’t give up. I support you. And fight like hell!”

Brought to you by The Irish Cancer Society. 

Call the Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700, email at [email protected] and check out the Irish Cancer Society on Facebook and Twitter too.