A positive thinking mum who joined a dieting group only weeks before she underwent a mastectomy after a shock cancer diagnosis asked surgeons to weigh her removed breast so she could claim 'Slimmer of the Week'.
Fiona McCarthy, 52, from Allenwood in Kildare is now urging everyone to go for all cancer checks after she was diagnosed with lobular cancer on her first-ever mammogram.
Despite the whirlwind diagnosis and operation, she refused to be down-hearted and always looked on the bright side of things.
"I went for my first ever mammogram last May but was told not to worry if I got a call back as it was quite common on their first exam," she said
“So I still wasn’t worried when they found an area of concern that was 10mm and wanted to investigate as they said that ingrown toenail surgery would be a bigger operation.”
However further tests determined that Fiona had lobular cancer and an MRI showed four areas of concern.
On July 2, she had a full mastectomy and lymph nodes removed from her under-arm
Despite the seriousness of the operation, she remained positive and amazingly, even asked the surgeons to weigh her removed breast so she could become Slimmer of the week with Slimming World.
“I had just joined Slimming World before the Mammogram and had lost three stone so I obviously wanted my breast to be weighed so I could be even lighter and get slimmer of the week,” she laughed
“My breast weighed 1.74km which I was told was ‘impressive’ by the surgeon who couldn’t quite believe what I was asking her to do.
I was using humour as a distraction. I really didn’t allow myself to get down about it.
“Anytime I visited my surgeon, he was smiling and the more he smiled, the worse the news so because he was so personable, I smiled too.
“I thought it is what it is. I have lost my breast but I’m so lucky that they found the cancer.
“Lobular cancer is very difficult to detect as it’s more of a spider web than a lump.”
“I’m in St Luke’s getting radiotherapy treatment and it’s like I’m on holidays. I get breakfast, lunch, tea and snacks
But then I look around and there is a man who has lost his eye, a young girl with thyroid cancer and I realise how lucky I have been.
“My cancer is gone. They chopped off my breast but I can get a new one – when I lose the five stone I’ve just put up.
"I’m only five foot one so I’m as round as I am tall now – but I’m above the ground and alive.
“Since my diagnosis, I’ve been using the cancer as an excuse to eat all around me but I’ll have no excuse now so I’ll have to get back on track."
Fiona is getting her last course of radiotherapy in St Luke’s this week and realises how fortunate she was in going for the mammogram.
“If I had gone for the mammogram a year earlier, they might have missed the cancer as it was so small but I’d say to any woman out there – go for your mammogram and your smear tests and anything else.
“It might be inconvenient to go – but it might be the inconvenience that will save your life.”