I describe myself as a cancer vixen. I use the word vixen because is sounds better than victim. Also, I have never seen myself as a victim. I am a proud survivor and I am grateful for that fact each and every day.
My cancer journey began ten years ago this month. I discovered that I carry the BRCA 1 gene. This meant I had an 85% chance of developing breast cancer and a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer. I had two choices - either opt for monitoring, taking a "let's wait and see" approach or radical surgery.
I chose the latter. So at the age of thirty-three I had both breasts and ovaries removed.
That may sound dreadfully shocking to you, but I never saw the surgery as a negative. Instead I viewed it as a chance to remove the parts of my body that could potentially kill me.
I'm a Mum. I have two children, one of each flavour. At the time of my operations they were five and four respectively. All I needed was to look at them and I had my inspiration to keep going. Like most mum's I would've walked over hot coals to be there for my children. When I gave birth to them, it was my intention to be there to nurture and love them for as long as I could. I never envisaged that that privilege would be hanging in the balance so soon.
Sadly in 2007, in spite of my preventative surgery I was diagnosed with cancer for the first time.
My first question was whether or not it could be treated. My oncologist assured me it could. Thus began a long road with an emerging pattern involving treatments, getting better, being diagnosed again - repeat...
To date, I've been diagnosed with and beaten cancer nine times. I'm currently waiting for treatment for my tenth diagnosis. Astonishingly and wonderfully, my prognosis is extremely good. My cancer has never spread to organs and has remained in lymph nodes.
I have always been a glass half full type of person and I vowed many years ago that cancer wasn't going to change that.
As I lay in a hospital bed back in 2008 I began to write. At first I was simply logging what was happening as a spleen venting exercise. But I quickly discovered a passion for writing. Since then I've had nine novels and a memoir published.
My tenth novel, 'The Perfect Gift' it out in my homeland of Ireland now and will be out in the UK and worldwide this summer.
For me, writing fiction is incredibly cathartic. I may have been stuck in a chemotherapy unit or waiting for
radiation over the years, but my mind was with my characters!
In 2010 I felt it was my civic duty to write about cancer. I longed for a book that told me what to expect, how to deal with treatment and how it would make me feel. So I wrote my memoir, 'Talk to the Headscarf.' I'm told it's a no nonsense account of dealing with cancer. I promise it's not a misery memoir either. In fact I laughed more than I cried writing that book.
Cancer is a horrible and vicious disease. I wouldn't recommend it to a friend and it's something I wish could be eradicated forever.
But I want my story to emanate hope. I would love people to read about me and instead of thinking oh no, she's had cancer ten times I would encourage people to say bravo, she's survived nine diagnoses.
I've borne witness to incredible advances in cancer treatments. Treatments that mean better outcomes and higher survival rates.
So if you've just been diagnosed or if you know someone who has please try to focus on the facts and if possible avoid going on line and terrifying yourself. Things are improving all the time. I know because I'm in the hub of it.
I don't have super powers. I'm not braver or better at fighting cancer than the next person. I am simply riding on the crest of the new of treatment.
As it happens, it's ten years since I began my cancer journey. I've just released my tenth novel and I am donning my gloves and getting ready to box my tenth cancer diagnosis into submission.
I know I'm one of the lucky ones. I don't take anything for granted. I appreciate all the good things in my life.
I have a career I adore and I get to spend time with the people I love most. What more could a gal ask for? (I know I'm stretching it by calling myself a gal at aged 43!).
I am one of more than 60 currently taking part in the CLIC Sargent Get In Character auction.
The eBay event, which runs until March 6, gives readers the chance to bid to be a character in the authors' next books.
I am honoured to be associated with providing cancer support for the young. There's no argument in my mind with helping children and young people who are braving cancer. Anyone with a heartbeat would be willing to do what they can, surely.
To take part in the event visit www.clicsargent.org.uk/getincharacter
To find out more about my books visit my homepage.Suggest a correction