Serendipity Day

It’s been a week of ups, no downs, there have been lots of lovely mindful moments sprinkled everywhere, mainly reminders of my past. The week seems to have been full of good karma.

On Monday, I set out to visit all the major Hospital Breast Cancer screening and diagnostic centres and Breast Clinics in Dublin.The goal was to ensure that health practitioners were informed about the Breast Density Seminar in Dublin on June 10th.

I had no certain way of knowing how these impromptu visits would go but I needn’t have worried. We were made most welcome, the Breast Density information was greeted with great interest along with registration details for the event. Monday 27th also marked exactly years since I’d had my mastectomy surgery on Friday 27th May 2016, the irony of that was not lost to me. It felt strangely apt to start out on this particular chapter of the BeingDense Advocacy story, 3 years on in St Vincent’s University hospital with the wonderful Breast care nurses in SVUH. Serendipity Day!

I was so lucky to have my own personal driver, navigator and friend with me both days. Aoife and I met through our Breast Cancer support group a year ago. She is a beautiful, strong, independent, intelligent woman, whose life trajectory has been seriously altered by her Breast Cancer diagnosis. I am in awe of her determination, passion and honesty and I have come to value and trust her friendship, she’s a good listener too, which helps, ’cause I do talk a lot! We covered a lot of ground on Monday and there was no doubt that the Breast Density discussion had truly begun in Ireland.

Day 2 began early. We skipped a leisurely breakfast, determined to finish and beat city rush hour traffic, first call was at 9.10 and met with more encouragment from a Radiologist who already knew about the Seminar and had registered, amazing!

Standing in a hospital elevator at around 10.30 staring intently at the man opposite, trying to figure out if he was a TV presenter or celebrity, I just knew I knew him! It turned out I did. It was a few seconds before we had worked it out and were chatting, laughing and reminiscing about others we had worked with and shared good times, great times with, it was so lovely. I mention this because, it’s easy to lose sight of who we were before Breast Cancer, especially if it takes your career away.

I am driven, I am a good communicator, I am passionate, I am compassionate, I am competent and competitive. I know these things to be true but self confidence is easily bruised, breast cancer treatment and surgery leave permanent scars, not only the mastectomy scar, it leaves long lasting, often permanent physical and psychological effects.

Meeting the gentleman that was and still is Paul Deering from my Rank Xerox days long ago reminded me of who I was then and funnily enough, reinforces who I am now. I hope he knows that. Sláinte!

Much later in the day, last call, Aoife and I had the nicest encounter with the Clinical Specialist of Radiography on our final visit. We spoke for some time about Mammographic Density and personalised risk factors, she is an amazing women who advocates freely about women knowing about Breast Density and the relevance of Ultrasound Breast Cancer screening and MRI for women with Dense Breasts. It was when we spoke as women though that we really connected and that was very special. We hope to meet again at the Seminar.

It was 5.20pm as we drove home, a bit tired but proud of what we had achieved on our 2 day, 347km Breast Density event information trip. An incominh message on my phone read :

“Hi Siobhán, this is Nancy’s husband, Joe Cappello” …..

……that stopped me in my tracks, it was as if Nancy knew what had been achieved, I am certain she is cheering us on, it is all falling into place Nancy, you were right!

I talk about Nancy Cappello a lot. I never met her but I wish I had. She is responsible for starting the first patient advocacy effort on Breast Density 15 years ago, in Connecticut.

I messaged Nancy many times, for advice about, she always replied. The last message I got from her was “You are doing great work Siobhán, it took me a few years, keep going. All it will take is one person to really listen, when that happens everything else will fall into place. It will happen, just keep going until it does.”

Joe, I know we will be in touch shortly – until then this one is For Nancy Cappello your beautiful brave wife who started it all.

For Nancy (RIP Nov 2018) The original founder of the Breast Density information for patients advocacy movement and inspiration for thank you.

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