Cancer survivors will be modelling for the Soul fashion show in Seapoint Restaurant, Monkstown this Friday night.
If it wasn’t for Hiroshima I wouldn’t be here in Glasthule, That might sound like a big leap but the fact is, the dropping of the atomic bomb lead to a cure for thyroid cancer.
My cancer was a very minor cancer in the scale of things, I had thyroid cancer. My second daughter had just been born when I noticed a small lump under my jaw. When I went for my 6 week postnatal check-up I mentioned it to the doctor. She decided to check it out and also the other lump in my neck. I’d had that small pea-sized lump for about ten tears and had been told it was a harmless cyst. It was now the size of a golf ball- time to sort it out.
Several weeks of hospital visits and needle tests showed the lump was in fact a tumour, coming from my thyroid gland. By now my daughter was six months old and her elder sister had just turned three. It was a mad time. To be honest, I hardly remember it, in those first few months after a baby I was certainly one crazy lady and perhaps that’s what helped me through. I was too tired, too hormonal to even think straight. I’d stopped breast-feeding a month earlier as it was all getting too much with the tests I was undergoing.
And of course I worried about that, and then I worried about whether I had somehow damaged my children during my pregnancies as it was clear now that I’d had the cancer for a long time. I worried about lots of things but funnily enough I didn’t worry about dying because I knew from research that my cancer was often curable.
I had surgery to remove my thyroid gland, followed by radio-iodine treatment. It’s an extraordinary treatment in its sheer, brilliant simplicity, and this is where Hiroshima comes in. If you can find the cause of something you can generally find the cure. The atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima had caused thousands of thyroid cancers – the same thing happened in Chernobyl when the nuclear reactor exploded – thousand of cases of thyroid cancer occurred.
It turned out the way to kill thyroid cancer is to nuke it! How very ironic that such a terrible thing as an atomic bomb could lead to the research which ultimately has led to millions of lives being saved.
In one of those funny coincidences that happen in life, one of the doctors who had carried out the research was the father of a close friend of mine, who was the mainstay of my support. The following summer she also developed cancer – today she also is alive and well.
Another fact: the thyroid gland loves iodine. So if you put a radioactive ingredient together with iodine you’ve got an amazing heat-seeking missile as it were – take the tablet and any thyroid tissue in the body will instantly absorb it because of the iodine. And at the same time, the thyroid tissue absorbs the radioactive element that ultimately destroys it. Wow. Stunning stuff.
It was a funny summer. It is a big operation to have your thyroid removed but it’s only surgery. The hardest part was after the surgery, when I went back to hospital for treatment. I wasn’t able to see my children for a two weeks, they were too young – because of the treatment I was radioactive for a while which can affect very young children. And yet all the time there was always this huge overriding realisation of just how very lucky I was – treatment was available, the cancer was destroyed and I would be fine.
Some cancers, you see, are curable. And that is because of intensive, constant research.
Which is why I’m thrilled to be part of this fund-raising event and to be one of the positive, terrific bunch of women modeling in Seapoint Restaurant this Friday. It’s going to be one helluva party!
This Friday Margaret O’Callaghan from the fabulous SOUL boutique in Glasthule is holding a fashion show to raise money for urgently needed funds for the Cancer Clinical Research Trust, CCRT. What’s unusual about this event is that all of the models taking part have had cancer themselves and are very happy to be sashaying down the catwalk