Cancer treatment during COVID – Karen wanted to share her story and thank everyone who helped her during her fight
Limerick lady Karen Sugrue talks about her Cancer treatment during COVID
Three months ago, through sheer dumb luck, I found a lump in my breast, and twenty six days later I was getting my first round of chemotherapy in the wonderful UHL. 40,000 people a year are being diagnosed with Cancer in Ireland, so I am in very good company. The great news is that treatments and recovery rates have never been better. However, this often depends on early detection, and 2020’s COVID pandemic interrupted screenings and made people fearful of going to their GPs and keeping appointments, so getting any worry checked out is key.
Having cancer during COVID does feel a little like being in a video game where different things keep trying to kill you as you try to get through to the next round, but the story you tell yourself about your experiences has a huge impact on wellbeing and coping and my story of having cancer during COVID has been shaped by the absolute tidal wave of support and help that has been shown me by incredible people. There are so many Limerick people quietly offering help to people with cancer behind the scenes. Some of this is sharing of experiences and invaluable chemo survival tips, some just quietly checking in regularly, and some of it is people using their skills and expertise to help in ways I didn’t know existed three months ago. What I have learned is that there is a huge community in Limerick of people with experience of cancer who want to help. A lot of the excellent supports that are usually in place for people with cancer aren’t possible during COVID, but there are a great many brilliant Limerick people using their expertise and creativity to find safe ways around the difficulties.
Appearance is often an important source of identity and having cancer doesn’t change that. Because chemo can change your appearance rapidly, and your hair and skin can take on a life of their own, it can feel a little overwhelming. Luckily for me, Helen Irwin from Bellissimo, and Louise Sheridan from Redcatsfx took me under their wings.
Helen did everything for me, including finding the perfect wig, giving me invaluable scalp care tips, and doing all my consultations for it online – following up with messages of support, encouragement and love.
The wonderful and incredibly kind makeup and special effects artist Louise Sheridan gives makeup tutorials online to help manage the skin adventures of cancer patients.
Exercise and meditation
Exercise is enormously important for my mental health and dancing, in particular, has helped me move out of some dark spots over the years, so I really felt the loss of my Zumba classes until wonderful local instructor Darren Nash of Zumba with Darren started offering his classes on zoom allowing me to continue from my house. Search for Zumba with Darren on Facebook
There is a lot of anxiety associated with COVID and cancer, and mindfulness and meditation can help enormously, so when Nadine Buttery of Limerick Tai Chi told me that she could send me recordings of her Tai Chi and meditation classes so that I could do them around chemo schedules, I was thrilled. Search for Limerick Tai Chi on Facebook
2020 is a year that everyone will remember for a variety of reasons, but my biggest take away from the year so far is the incredible kindness of people in Limerick and I am forever indebted to everyone who helped me.
For more info on Cancer go HERE
For more stories on Karen Sugrue go HERE