I was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 1991 and in subsequent years became interested in the growing US breast cancer advocacy movement. While I had a good experience with diagnosis and treatment I was aware that this was not the case for everyone and felt that there was plenty of scope for a similar movement here. So I was delighted to hear in 1997 of a European breast cancer advocacy organisation – EUROPA DONNA – The European Breast Cancer Coalition – and that an Irish branch had been launched.
I joined Europa Donna Ireland and at my first EUROPA DONNA conference in Paris in 1998 I was elected to the Board of the organisation. Subsequently I became Vice President of EUROPA DONNA, as well as being Chair of Europa Donna Ireland for a number of years. My time on the Board involved travelling to meet EUROPA DONNA members in a number of countries and to many conferences and meetings.
The whole experience has been and continues to be very interesting and fulfilling, enabling me to use my personal experience to work with other committed women towards improving access to best quality breast cancer services for all and to learn a great deal about the disease and its treatment. This has been of great help to me in coping with a recurrence in 2013, giving me the knowledge to ask the right questions, to understand the answers and to appreciate how the services have improved.
Through Europa Donna Ireland I have had the opportunity to meet many great people working in the breast cancer and wider patient advocacy movement, as well as a number of skilled and caring professionals in the field.