Beginnings, Endings and the Joys in between

It’s been so long since I’ve had time to sit down and fill in the gaps with what Beingdense and I have been up to. I can scarcely believe my last blog post was in July.

The Summer absolutely flew past. In July, I had the loveliest experience collaberating with Karin Sieger for her Cancer and Me series of wonderful podcasts. Karin and I met on Journeying beyond Breast Cancer Marie’s weekly-round-up so it was extra special to speak to her about Breast Density and She produced a really informative podcast about Being Dense and my work in Breast Cancer Patient Advocacy in Ireland. Thank you to all those who expressed such a positive reaction to it.

Breast density and patient advocacy – in conversation with Siobhán Freeney 🎧

Here’s a link to it My first Podcast, a new beginning.

Thanks so much Karin.

In September held their final event. I was thrilled to be invited and be a speaker on the Patient advocacy panel that evening, chaired by our own Marie Ennis O’Connor in the Royal College of Surgeons.

“Nothing For Us – Without Us” was the theme of the event.

It was a bittersweet one – the last event in what has been an incredibly successful 6 year Breast Cancer research programme funded by Irish Cancer Society

Thanks so much to Professor William Gallagher, Dr Fiona Lanigan and all involved from UCD Conway, for working so closely with the Breast cancer Patient Advocacy community and organising so many opportunities for #PPI with real patient engagement during those 6 years. I have enjoyed my involvement, met some wonderful people and learned so much.

Looking at these photos you can tell it was more of a celebration than a farewell. We look forward to our next encounter with Prof William Gallagher – and the next few years of Breast Cancer #PPI with our amazing Cancer researchers, patient advocates and clinical advisors.

A new beginning – Bring it on!

My husband retired this year too. He bade farewell to his 40yr working career and whilst it was a highly emotional time, we celebrated life and living. We took an extended holiday in September/October and truly relaxed in warm sunshine for a few blissfully quiet weeks. We are both looking forward to a few more extended holidays over the next few years.

I am so acutely aware of age just now and often think about the fact that both my parents died quite young. My Mum aged 58, my Dad aged 65. We have already outlived their ages and that itself is reason enough to celebrate.

Retirement is not an end it’s a new beginning.

“The joy of retirement comes in those everyday pursuits that embrace the joy of Life” again I say bring it on!

I want to introduce you to the beginning of a new initiative I have been working on for some time.

Lobular Ireland has been born!

A new Irish ILC Advocacy, Patients, Researchers, Clinicians working together to increase awareness of Invasive Lobular BreastCancer treatment options, screening, diagnosis & patient follow-up.

We are so pleased to have this up and running and looking forward to developing strong links for Lobular Breast Cancer patients.

I was diagnosed with stage 3c Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer when I was 55. It is very different to many other types of Breast Cancer as it is less likely to present as a lump,

Statistically in Ireland each year there are equal numbers of women diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer as there are Lobular Breast Cancer.

Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer has been largely understudied until recently so there is much work for Lobular Ireland to do in relation to increasing patient awareness and education. We are incredibly grateful to have a team of highly skilled ILC scientists and researchers and a Consultant Oncologist as clinical advisor too.

In November I will attend the ELBCC

3rd annual European Lobular Breast Cancer Consortium meeting in Leuven, Belgium. I’ll meet ILC patient advocates, scientists and researchers from all over Europe and it will be my pleasure to introduce them to Lobular Ireland now too.

Meet the ELBCC Patient advocates

So on to another ending, a real farewell, the end of another chapter in my life and yet another new beginning!

I am having to take enforced early retirement on medical grounds. I had hoped this wouldn’t be the case and I have resisted it for some time. I really loved my job and the independence it afforded me. After Chemo, a Mastectomy and Radiotherapy, I embraced my return to work, I had missed it so, so much.

I missed the hustle and bustle of school life, the students I worked with, the staff room banter. I had missed the routine and of course my income too.

So throughout 2017, I once again revelled in my early morning drive to work, 50 mins on mainly rural, country roads with Marty and Lyric FM on the radio for company.

Beautiful music evoking memories and feelings about times and much loved people from my past. I used to properly laugh out loud at Marty’s silly jokes and little anecdotes. There were mornings I cried too; of course, but mostly I sang my may to work and it felt so good to be alive and well and back doing what I loved.

All went well for a time but after almost a year, I had to have another small surgery. This time my ‘bouncibilty’ didn’t kick in, my reserves had run out, fatigue had been a factor for so long and it was now just too much. I was forced to take an extended leave of absence.

So after many discussions and meetings, OT assessments, HR appraisals, this month I accept that I have to say good bye to work as I have known it since 2002 and long before that too. I have worked with and advocated for children for 17 years.

Rather than being sad about leaving it behind, I am fueled by my passion for Patient advocacy and my interest and involvement in #PPI and my desire to continue with that.

So here’s to another new beginning –

Bring it on!

Until next time, bye bye and thanks for reading.

See you on Twitter and Facebook most days.

Siobhán x