'You can be diagnosed with breast cancer and lead a normal life'
A woman battling breast cancer has urged women to get any changes to their bodies checked immediately.
Eileen McCay, who was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, said that getting the diagnosis has been ‘scary.’
However, she was able to rely on invaluable support from local group, the hugely popular Pink Ladies.
“I didn’t have a lump, I had a rash on my breast. I went to the doctor a few times and was told that it was Eczema. But it just wasn’t going away and I went back just after Christmas and was referred to the breast clinic.”
Eileen, who works in the Outpatients Pepartment at Altnagelvin Hospital, started treatment almost immediately.
“The tumour was in the chest wall and the rash was it’s way of letting me know. I had surgery on January 15 and a month later I started chemotherapy.”
Eileen had six cycles of chemotherapy and is currently getting hormone treatment. This will continue once every three months until March next year.
“Getting the diagnosis of breast cancer was very scary. I was a fit person and I was in the gym sometimes three or figure times a week. Because I was fit I wondered how and why I had got cancer.
“I immediately thought what am I going to do, I’m not going to be able to train. A lot goes through your head when you get that diagnosis, but I thought I’m not going to let it beat me, I am going to beat it.
Eileen said she had a positive attitude towards her diagnosis.
“My parents live with me and it was almost harder for them than it was for me, but as long as they saw I was okay they were okay.”
For the last few years, Eileen has been involved with boot camps at U-Turn Fitness and the group heloed lift Eileen’s spirits throughout her treatment.
“Boot camp is my thing but I had to be very careful during ‘chemo’ and I couldn’t come and visit. The group here are a great bunch. The personal trainer, Danny Glenn and all the rest of the group, were sending wee videos of boot camp so I could still be a part of it in some way.”
Eileen believes that her fitness levels helped her get through chemotherapy and she is now back in the gym.
“I can’t do what I used to do in the gym. I can’t do weights, something I really miss, but Danny has shown me alternatives and I am still in the gym environment which is a great boost.”
“If you have a diagnosis like mine, there is no reason why you can’t do a boot camp or train. Danny goes by the hospital advice and he links me up to a heart monitor as I train.
“You can be diagnosed with cancer and lead a normal life.
“I was concerned there would be a bit of stigma when I came into the gym wearing my head scarf, but the people here didn’t even blink an eye.”
Throughout her diagnosis and treatment, the Pink Ladies were ‘very supportive’.
“They gave me information and the opportunity to avail of treatments, such as laughing yoga and reflexology. Their support was invaluable when I was going through a tough time.”
Eileen has decided to give something back to the Derry based charity through her love of boot camps.
U-Turn Fitness are supporting 12 different charities over the next 12 months and the first of these will be the Pink Ladies.
There will be a boot camp on Monday next, October 15 at 7pm at the Whitehouse Road based gym.
Entry is free, with donation buckets available on the night.
Some members of the gym are also taking part in ‘Sober October’ to raise money for the charity.
During Breast cancer Awareness Month, Eileen has urged others to go to their GP if they notice any changes in their breasts.
“If there are any changes at all go to the GP get checked. It’s not always lumps, it can be any kind of change to the breast and it is not just women it affects men as well.”
Eileen also encouraged women to ensure they go for routine mammograms as more than 700 are missed here each year. For more information about the Pink Ladies contact 02871414004.