Four years on from her own fight with breast cancer, Majella O’Donnell launched the Irish Cancer Society's new campaign, Cups Against Cancer, to fund life-saving breast cancer research and supports to help other women affected by the disease.
Majella O’Donnell was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, and bravely shaved her head on the Late Late Show at the beginning of her treatment. Since then, she has been raising awareness for the disease and has spoken frankly about the treatment.
“When I found out I had breast cancer I was shocked. The treatment was tough and it was difficult emotionally.”
She told the Irish Sun that since getting the all-clear, she has had two further cancer scares.
A couple of weeks ago she was alarmed to find a lump on her neck, which turned out to be an infected swollen lymph gland.
“Straight away I thought ‘lymph glad, it’s back.’ It’s scary. I went in and had MRIs and a CT and bone scans and blood tests and it was all clear,” she said. “In the last two years twice I’ve gone to the oncologist and said ‘something’s not right’ and she’s checked me and I’m grand.”
“I try to say, ‘Majella relax’. I say you can go back and call the oncologist. I tell her I’m turning into a hypochondriac. She’s brilliant, she says, ‘Don’t worry, come back, that’s what we’re here for’.”
Majella says that since getting the diagnosis four years ago, she has been worried that the cancer will return.
“The further I get from my diagnosis, four years now, the more I worry if I feel sick, or if I have a pain in my back for too long straight away I think, ‘the cancer is back.’ After I had the cancer treatment the first couple of years after it was great, you were over it. But when you’re over it for four years you start to worry.
“My daughter is coming up to 30 so I tell her to regularly check. I say, ‘Check the girls, check the girls, check the girls’.
“Don’t ever think, ‘It’s not going to happen to me’.”
“I’m 57 now. I’m wanting to slow down and spend more time with my grandchildren. I feel life is very short. I want to slow.”
Cups Against Cancer
The Irish Cancer Society’s new campaign is encouraging people to get their cups out for a good cause and host a coffee morning in October, which is breast cancer awareness month.
“There are a lot of supports available and more advances are being made as a result of cancer research which is improving the outcome for breast cancer patients,” Majella says.
“It’s fantastic to see new discoveries being made, but these developments are reliant on donations so in order to fight back against this disease we need to raise funds.
“This year over 2,900 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer here in Ireland. That’s eight women a day.
“These are our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends and they need our support.
“So please, sign up at www.cancer.ie/cupsagainstcancer and get your cups out for a good cause this October.”