Day 7 #HAWMC

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How did you choose to start advocating for breast cancer?  

I don’t remember ever making a conscious decision to become an advocate; it’s something that has evolved over time.  I think for many of us who have assumed this role the trigger is something that has happened to us or someone we love  – something which we want to change and make better.  Our advocacy evolves at the moment when it is no longer about us, but also about all of those who are affected in the same way.

For me, my advocacy was born in the moment when I realised that fertility preservation should have been on the agenda with my oncology team. The decision to initiate fertility preservation must be made quickly before cancer treatment begins.  The sense of urgency, the stress of the cancer diagnosis, and insufficient support and information meant I didn’t feel I had time to explore my fertility options before treatment began. This ultimately had a negative effect on my emotional and psychological healing from cancer.

While it was too late for me to do something to preserve my own fertility, it wasn’t too late for other young women. I started to speak at events, write articles, and talk to whomever would listen that this was an issue that all young women with a diagnosis of  breast cancer should be informed about. I co-authored a booklet on Breast Cancer and Fertility to provide patients with the information and support they need to make informed decisions about their reproductive choices when facing a diagnosis of breast cancer.  All these many years later, I still can’t believe there is a need to continue this advocacy. While it’s improved for some, there is still no co-ordinated plan for discussing fertility and providing options for young women in Ireland. That makes me sad and angry, and so my advocacy continues.

How about you? What started you on your own advocacy journey? 

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