A pregnant mother-of-two has started writing an online diary that details her battle against an incurable form of cancer and alerts other woman to the early warning signs of the disease.
Caitriona O’Loughlin is married to Clonmel man Derek O’Loughlin and the couple, who live in Arklow, are expecting their third child in November.
Caitriona was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a lump in her breast at the end of March. In May she discovered that the cancerous cells in her breast had reached her liver.
“At first we were devastated and dumbfounded when we realised the extent of Caitriona’s illness, our heads were spinning”, 35 year-old Derek, the son of Kathleen and Johnny O’Loughlin from College Avenue, Clonmel, told The Nationalist.
He said that the couple then went about researching the illness to find out what could be done to help Caitriona.
“Now it’s a case of control and treatment and living with cancer. We’re trying to get on with our lives as much as normal with 3 year-old Caitlin and one and-a-half year-old Daniel”, he said.
“Young people can get breast cancer too. I never thought at 31 I would have breast cancer”, says Caitriona, who’s being treated for her illness at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.
“To have the best chance at beating it, it needs to be found early”. She advises women not to ignore any breast pain or changes to their breasts.
“Unfortunately for me, mine wasn’t caught at an early stage. Breast cancer is very curable unless it turns metastatic, which is what happens when it spreads to other parts of your body. That’s when it becomes incurable. However it is not an automatic death sentence and in many cases, while it can’t be cured, it can be treated for a long time and there is always hope”. Caitriona says that if the worst was to happen she would like her children to be able to read her story in her own words. “They will be bound to have many questions and hopefully by reading my blog, when they are older, they can understand better what happened”.
She says that also found writing the blog therapeutic. “In the early days blogs really helped me to see that there is loads of hope. There are a lot of people out there who have been through my situation and are now living normal lives, while still in treatment. So hopefully, by discussing how I ‘live’ with cancer I will be able to give hope to others who are newly diagnosed at stage 4, while encouraging others to get themselves checked early. People always ask me how long will I be in the treatment and the answer is forever, or until it stops working. A lot of people don’t realise that when you are stage 4, the treatment is for life”.
The blog – butiwannaliveforever.blogspot.com - also keeps family and friends up to date with her progress.
Caitriona and Derek have been married for almost five years. Derek has lived in Arklow for the past 13 years, after he graduated from University of Limerick with a Business Studies degree, majoring in accounting and finance.
He is now a partner in the Royal Hotel/Sally O’Brien’s nightclub complex in the Co. Wicklow town.