One of the country’s most respected journalists tells of her battle with breast cancer and her desire to get back on the airwaves… RADIO journalist Aine Lawlor found out that she had cancer of the breast in the latter part of last year. In many ways, it didn’t come as a surprise to her. She kind of expected that one day, sooner or later, the disease would come knocking. “Cancer was always part of our lives. My mother died of cancer, so did my grandmother and my cousin got it in her thirties,” Aine told the Marian Finucane Show. “The surprise for me, given that my mother died at 47 and I turned 50 last year, was that it didn’t happen sooner.” That said, the disease did its best to creep up on the woman who has hosted the Morning Ireland radio show for what seems like forever. “I never felt a lump. There was no lump. I thought I was imagining all this. There was a bit of skin puckering, maybe I felt a bit more tired. But you could say that if you (just) had a cold.” Despite the lack of concrete evidence, however, she always felt that it might be there. “I knew after the mammogram, because there was too long a delay.” Good Reason She told the eldest of her children straight away. But she didn’t want the youngest to have her birthday party overshadowed. This ‘letting people know’ business can get a bit complicated. “You don’t want your close friends hearing it from someone else. You don’t want to get to the point where some people know and others don’t.” She went on a drug trial, as opposed to the usual route of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. And she had a good reason for choosing this route: “I thought I knew a fair bit about cancer. But once you get into it you find that it is incredibly complicated.” She says the description of traditional cancer therapy with its ‘slash, burn, poison’ approach is not what you want, because a lot of the time it’s not as effective as you hoped it would be. “You are killing a lot of your body to try and kill the cancer. What you want are drugs that specifically work on the cancers in your body and stop them from growing. But medicine is not where we want it to be. There are never any guarantees. It’s about fighting it (cancer) with everything that’s available.” It was this that led her to a place on the drug trial. At the end of February of this year, she had her surgery. She shaved her own hair, rather than have it fall out in clumps. She did it for the kids as much as anything. “Nobody wants to be looking at their mother with a shaved head. So I got my wig and got the head shaved for Halloween. It gave the kids a chance to get used to me. But I hate wearing it. I just wear a hat now.” While recouping, she said afternoon television was a ‘Godsend’ and ‘really bad television was great’. She couldn’t be around food a lot of the time because it made her feel sick. “It’s incredible how much people will do for you: your friends, people who are part of the community. People bring you coffee and drive you around the place. People are very kind.” Began Complaining She got so many flowers that her children began complaining about all the flowers that she was receiving. “People abroad were praying for me. It’s amazing how kind and generous most people really are. It’s easy to forget that kind of stuff.” She says you don’t know when cancer is going to strike; nobody knows. But the key to managing it lies in your attitude towards it. “What you can do is deal with the way you react when stuff comes around; how you cope with the impact it has on you.” She’s hoping to be back on the air this summer. There are many people who can’t wait!
- Quotes used in the construction of this article were taken from the Marian Finucane Radio Show.