A Dublin garda has told how she got promoted to sergeant while battling breast cancer – but insists that she doesnât see herself as inspirational, just an ordinary person trying not to let the disease define her.
Sharon Power from Castleknock got diagnosed with cancer in 2018, when she was 42 years old.Â
The mum of two was on holidays with her parents when she discovered a lump on her breast.Â
âI knew I should probably get it checked out, but I kind of left it a few more weeks after I came back from the holiday,â she told RSVP Live.
âI went to my GP with a sore throat and said âBy the way, would you mind looking at this lump?â
âI was kind of embarrassed, as Irish people tend to be. I was trying to play it down, not make a big deal.â
Further tests confirmed the news she didnât want to hear – she had breast cancer.Â
âIt was definitely the worst day of my life,â she said.Â
âMy world just collapsed. I couldnât see, I couldnât hear, I couldnât think. I just went completely numb.Â
âIn my own head, I already had myself dead and buried.â
Sharon then had to get a mastectomy, which she said was a âhorrificâ experience.Â
âYou hear the word âmastectomyâ but itâs only when itâs been done to you that you realise what itâs actually like,â she admitted.Â
âActually having a part of your body removed…It changes your identity, your femininity, everything.
âI felt butchered, thereâs no other way to describe it.â
Just two weeks after the mastectomy, Sharon had an interview to be promoted to the rank of sergeant.
âI was determined to do the interview because I just thought, cancer isnât going to define me and itâs not going to stop me from progressing in my life,â she explained.Â
âThe promotion was something to hold onto for my future, it was something to work towards and something that gave me hope.â
That same day, she got a phone call informing her the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.Â
âI was told I had triple negative breast cancer, only about 15% to 20% of people with breast cancer have that type and thereâs no targeted treatment for it,â she said.
âSo I had to go through 16 rounds of chemo, followed by 20 sessions of radiotherapy.
âLosing my hair was dreadful, that was a very hard part. It was only when my hair fell out that people outside of my close friends and family realised there was something seriously wrong with me.Â
Sharon, now 44, has taken some time out from work to focus on getting better, but is planning to return to start her new job as a sergeant in September.Â
She said sheâs looking forward to the challenge and seizing the moment much more than she used to.Â
âI lost a friend of mine to breast cancer last year – she was diagnosed at the same time as me, she went through the same treatment as me. We were on the same journey together, so that was devastating.
âI see life completely differently now. Itâs only since being diagnosed with cancer that I really see the world, I really appreciate every morning.
âI donât sweat the small stuff, I donât worry about what people think of me.Â
âYou donât know what life is going to throw at you – Iâve tried to turn this negative situation into a positive.â
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