My name is Sandra Ennis Kavanagh and I was just 41 when I was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Perotini, a very rare cancer that affects just one in a million people.
I went into Wexford General Hospital in 2013 to have, what I thought was a routine appendix operation, and woke up in the Intensive Care Unit to the news that I had cancer!
My world was turned upside down! Even though I had just been diagnosed with this horrible disease, I was determined to fight it with everything I had as I wasn’t ready to leave behind my family and my kids who were six and four at the time. I had 12 rounds of chemotherapy which was ineffective in fighting the cancer.
In 2014 I had to travel to England for surgery as there was no specialist in Ireland to perform the type of operation I needed. I eventually got to England and spent over seven long weeks there. Not seeing our children was very hard, not only for me but also my husband who was with me every step of the way. The surgery took 12 hours during which doctors removed my gallbladder, spleen, womb, ovaries, part of my bowel, my appendix and belly button and then they washed my stomach out with a hot chemotherapy solution. The recovery was very tough. There were often times I felt like giving up, but I wouldn’t allow myself to, not only for my own sake but also for the sake of my family. When I came home I spent over three months in a wheelchair, all the time working hard to try and get strength back in my body. I was determined to get back on my feet.
At that point I started another 12 sessions of chemo to kill anything that might have been left behind. The chemo was tough going. I am now in the clear and not only have I walked at Relay as a survivor, I was also part of the committee for the first 2 years.
Relay is a great community event and all money raised goes to the Irish Cancer Society to help fund their great services including cancer research.