In March 2011, at the age of 27, Gillian Johnson was diagnosed with breast cancer.
After finding a lump in her breast in February of that year, Gillian made an appointment to see her GP who wasn’t that concerned. As she was under the age of 34, the mum-of-three was not a priority case and was given a referral for an appointment to take place in the next six to 12 weeks.
But the young mum was concerned and so decided to go private, even though she didn’t have any medical insurance. Ringing St. James’ Hospital on a Tuesday, she was seen by the Thursday of the same week.
After a triple assessment – examination, scan and biopsy, the 30-year-old was found to have two large tumours in her breast. Her treatment consisted of six sessions of severe chemotherapy over three weeks, an operation and radiation - because of her age, Gillian said they threw everything at her to give her a fighting chance.
Going through cancer is a particularly scary process but Gillian credits the Irish Cancer Society
for helping her get through the tough times. After picking up a leaflet in the hospital about the charity, Gillian received literature which offered support and information including how to tell her three young kids. In the dark of night, when she was frightened about the future, Gillian would find comfort by reading the leaflets that she kept under her bed.
With a countless amount of support from friends and family, Gillian didn’t need to avail of the Irish Cancer Society’s National Cancer Helpline but believes it is great for “people who have to face it alone” describing it as “unbearable to go through”.
The charity offers support in a number of different ways including nationwide support groups, financial aids, their Care to Drive, their helpline and a night nurse, meaning they are there for cancer patients when they need help or comfort. However, it is not just cancer patients that the charity helps, it is also there for those who have loved ones suffering from the disease.
In April of this year, Ballygowan started their Ballygowan Gold campaign to raise much needed funds for the Irish Cancer Society and to increase cancer awareness in Ireland. Fronted by Des Bishop and supported by Mairead Farrell, the campaign which turns Ballygowan labels gold will bear a specially designed label promoting the Irish Cancer Society’s National Cancer Helpline.
The campaign runs until September of this year.