By Aimee Walsh A WOMAN tells her inspiring story from breast cancer diagnosis to becoming an ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland ahead of the la…

By Aimee Walsh
A WOMAN tells her inspiring story from breast cancer diagnosis to becoming an ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland ahead of the launch of their 100k in 30 days event this June.
Lisa McElwaine, from Rathfarnham, was 45 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a lump in the shower in November 2019.
McElwaine, from Rathfarnham, with her daughter Ella, is a breast cancer survivor and Breast Cancer Ireland ambassador who is helping to launch this year’s 100k in 30 Days event in aid of Breast Cancer Ireland
I waited then until January. I thought maybe its not or maybe it would go away but it didnt and then I noticed a tiny bit of spotting in my bra, so that was my big alarm bell to go straight to my GP.
Before I even had my top back on, she had the letter gone off to the consultant. I got an appointment the following week and met with the consultant and had a mammogram and biopsy that day and we went back in he [the oncologist] said we would have the results in two weeks and told my husband to make sure he comes back with me for the results.
I had a feeling that something wasnt right, but you are always living in a bit of hope that maybe its not.
We went back two weeks later, and we were given the news that I had breast cancer. I had to wait for results so that they could make the decisions about my treatment.
Lisa says she was given the date for a lumpectomy on February 6 but begged them to put it off for two weeks as her daughter was making her confirmation.
I had my surgery on February 19, and everything went well. It had just barely touched my lymph nodes and he was happy with all the margins. He just said because of the type of tumour I had, it was grade two stage three and because of my age I would go to see an oncologist.
Lisa began her chemotherapy sessions on April 3, 2020 and had six rounds, during lockdown.
We couldnt have anyone in the house or see anyone. I found that bit really hard but in saying that, I think Covid did me a favour in one sense with the lockdown because I didnt miss out on life as such and I was able to have all my family around me nobody was in work or school so I think all that helped me.
I really rested. I stayed in when I didnt feel well and on my good days I went out and met my pals and my family. My motto was look good feel good so on my days when I felt good, I did what I could.
Lisa finished her chemotherapy in July, and in August began 20 rounds of radiotherapy, something she says was mentally difficult.
I wasnt expecting to see so many sicker people than me. Seeing people that had all sorts of cancer, whereas with the chemotherapy it was just breast cancer.
I thought, could this be me and could I get a misdiagnosis or what if the treatment doesnt work?
Its just the fear and then there were children there and you are looking at the kids going in for radiation and their parents sitting outside sobbing, because it was every day, I found it harder mentally and because I had to do it on my own.
Once she had finished radiotherapy, her oncologist gave her the all clear, but advised she get tested to see if she had the BRCA gene, which gives the person carrying it a much higher risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
BRCA gene means that it doesnt skip a generation, it is passed from one of your parents, so it is a 50/50 chance of you getting it. My mam is one of 13- her brother had secondary cancer and has since passed away, her two brothers have prostate cancer and my mam had a different type of cancer not related to BRCA.
I was told I was likely to have the gene since I already had breast cancer at 45 as well as the family history.
I couldnt stop crying, I was floored. It was worse news than being diagnosed with breast cancer because I had such a high risk now of getting ovarian cancer or getting another type of breast cancer about 90% and I had the fear that I had passed it onto my children.
Lisa says that she put the genetic test to the back of her mind and celebrated Christmas with her family in a bubble of 12.
Tragedy struck again in January when nine out of twelve members of her family were diagnosed with Covid-19.
My poor dad got it the worst and unfortunately passed away after being sick for five days. My dad brought me to all my appointments throughout my chemo and my radiation, he was my rock as such.
Shortly after tragically losing her dad, Lisa received the news that she was BRCA-2 positive, prompting her to make the difficult decision to have a hysterectomy and double mastectomy.
I had a hysterectomy about five weeks ago and my chances of getting ovarian cancer have gone from 60% to about 5% so I am relieved about that and I am having a double mastectomy with reconstruction in October.
Lisa said her diagnosis and story inspired her to become an ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland.
She is launching the 100k in 30 days which invites people to walk, run or jog 100k in June to raise important funds. The event raised over 1.2 million last year and hopes to do the same this year.
When I got diagnosed with breast cancer last year, I reached out to Breast Cancer Ireland and I got loads of support from the other ambassadors when I would ask questions about chemotherapy or wigs or whatever it was.
We did the 100k last year, myself and my pals, and it was a great distraction for me and then when you see how much the event actually raised it is just a no-brainer so hopefully this year it will be bigger.
I think prevention is better than a cure and knowledge is power. The more you know about these things the easier it is to one accept and two do something about it, that it is not as scary as what you think.
To sign up for 100k in 30 days go to and for more information on Breast Cancer Ireland go to
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