Sarah was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2013. The tumour on diagnosis was a secondary, presumed uterine primary. Sarah’s consultant referred her for further scans. The biopsy test was inconclusive, the histopathologist was unable to obtain a definitive diagnosis due to the nature of the cells. Sarah was referred to a specialist gynaecologist surgeon and he discussed the possibility of the cancer being a lymphoma. A couple of days later she got a call from the nurse specialist to say the cancer was not a lymphoma, but perhaps it could be a germ cell tumour. Weeks passed, whilst we waited for a diagnosis so Sarah could start treatment.
At Sarah’s next appointment (5th appointment for a diagnosis) she was diagnosed with lymphoma. We were all so happy and relieved as this is a very treatable cancer. Sarah was admitted to hospital, to commence treatment, to which she had an amazing response, with a tumour in her neck disappearing after the first dose of chemotherapy. However just before Sarah was being discharged, her consultant delivered more devastating news, the histopathologist remained unconvinced the cell staining was a lymphoma and he was sending her biopsy to Boston, USA for further investigation. Weeks later, Sarah was called for the sixth time to get her cancer diagnosis only to be told, despite extensive testing, it was impossible to find the primary source of the cancer, and she was officially diagnosed with Cancer of Unknown Primary.
This diagnosis was met by us with complete shock, very few people had heard of this type of cancer, including many healthcare professionals, it was very hard to find information outside of the hospital, and there were no patient support groups in Ireland adding to the mystery and agony of the diagnosis.
Sarah went on to have three different cycles of chemotherapy almost concurrently with a 4-month break, alongside numerous radiotherapy sessions.
Sarah received the highest standard of care from all the members of the multidisciplinary team from diagnosis to treatment, and was especially grateful to her oncologists, and all the nursing team, for their, care, support, and kindness. Sarah continued fundraising for the Irish Cancer Society in between chemotherapy treatments.
Sarah died on the 11th April 2015 at the age of 31.