A young local mum from Moville is planning to beat breast cancer with glamour and grace.
Catriona Crumlish says she is not one to give up control. The 35-year-old mum of two was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, but she immediately took matters into her own hands.
She rushed to get her eyebrows microbladed safely before starting chemo and is already researching wigs.
This determined young woman plans to pursue ‘vanity for sanity’ throughout her cancer journey, documenting it all on a blog titled ‘Glamour and Grace’.
Speaking to Donegal Woman after her first chemo session, she said: “I turned to the practical things I could do in the weeks before my treatment. When something like this happens you are in the hands of a medical team. I’m not one for giving up control.”
Catriona’s diagnosis was a long time coming, and something she now wishes she was more assertive over.
She first felt two lumps in her right breast in March 2017, but was diagnosed with cysts. Doctors at the Letterkenny Breast Clinic told her to take evening primrose oil.
However, by July the lumps had fused together and she noticed another lump in her armpit. She returned to her GP and it wasn’t until three months later that she got the bad news in the Breast Clinic.
Thankfully, the cancer hadn’t spread, but she has retold her story as a warning to other women.
“The fact with my diagnosis took so long to get has made people more aware that they can push for answers. It’s about creating awareness that you are in control even though they are supposed to be the expert. If something isn’t right keep pushing.
“If they diagnosed me in time I’d say my whole treatment wouldn’t be as long. I could have had surgery right away.
“My lumps were only tiny in May, one was only pea size and one was the size of a peppercorn. But you can’t go back, you can’t change it now.”
Catriona now faces four and a half months of chemo before surgery and radiotherapy.
A teacher at Letterkenny’s Educate Together primary school, Catriona moved from her Dublin home to Moville, Co. Donegal to start a family with her husband Seamus. They have two ‘hilarious and cheeky’ little boys, Eli, aged 4 and Eoghan, aged 2.
“We are trying to keep everything as normal as we can for the boys but you can’t hide it from them. I told them mammy has a sick boob and will be taking medicine. I said the medicine might make mammy’s hair fall out but I’ll get new hair and I’ll pick the colours and they can help me.”
“My four-year-old is quite sensitive and me losing my hair is the one thing he has honed in on. It might fall out but at least I know it will come back eventually.
“If you tell kids enough that they feel they are involved I think it stops them from over-thinking,” Catriona said.
Catriona had many questions after discovering she had cancer, but found that she couldn’t relate to information forums online.
“I wanted to have a picture of what was coming and people suggested I write it down and put it out there for others like me.
“It felt so nice to empty my head. Blogging made me ready for chemo and I started a Facebook page the night before my first treatment. I woke the next day to find over 500 likes and messages from so many people in the same boat, some with their own experiences and others reassuring me.
“It’s a great help to hear people’s stories and advice on things to be careful about.
“My family in Dublin have said it’s good they can read my posts and are not hounding me asking questions. It saves me retelling the craic.”
Catriona has written about her innermost feelings and fears on the blog in a fresh and positive manner. She plans to pen her health experience alongside tips on skincare and the Look Good Feel Better programme for women with cancer.
“I would be into style and I like wearing a little makeup. I’ll write about my wig process and how I was affected by chemo.
“Naively I thought I could batter on through. After my first treatment I went shopping and took my boys to the cinema. I overdid it and my temperature shot up.
“I was admitted to hospital this week with a suspected infection and I forgot a million and one things but I made sure to have my makeup bag. Whenever you have a face on it lifts you. It works for me, whatever is going to get me through it.”
Catriona hopes her words can help any person who has been recently diagnosed with cancer. She is hoping to keep her outlook as light as possible and has already inspired a community with strength, grace and a little glamour.
Follow Catriona on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/glamourandgracethroughbreastcancer
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