Vivian grew up in Goldenbridge, close to St James’s Hospital. She emigrated to London, where she continued to live up until 2014. In 2010, Vivian was diagnosed in London with Stage 1 uterine/womb cancer, and she had surgery to remove the cancer. So Vivian carried on with her life, until in April 2014, whilst on holiday in France she was very ill. Thinking it was food poisoning, she took to the bed to rest, but by her return to London, she was experiencing ‘excruciating’ pain.
She was told that she had a re-occurrence of womb cancer, and it was of the worst kind. There was no recommended treatment and she was told to consider a palliative care programme. Of course, this was a hugely traumatic diagnosis to receive. Vivian decided to return to Dublin, and to live out the remainder of her time where she grew up.
Once based in Dublin, she needed to get on the radar of the health services and her cousin, Marie, recommended that she was referred to Dr Noreen Gleeson, consultant gynaecological surgeon. In her own words, Vivian describes ‘as soon as I sat down with Dr Gleeson, I knew that this woman was special, and if there was anyone to help me, I was in the right place’. Her records from London had been reviewed. Dr Gleeson was able to conduct a scan and examination immediately and on examination, told Vivian that she could operate on the cancer.
As Vivian says ‘I nearly fell through the floor. I had been told there was no hope, and now here was a woman telling me, that she was prepared to surgically remove the cancer. I couldn’t believe it’. Her tumour had grown from 9cm to 17.5cm since leaving London, so surgery happened quickly.
Vivian clearly remembers being gently prodded awake about 6am in the morning. It was Dr Claire Thompson, to tell her that the results had come back, and the margins around where the tumour had been, were all clear. Vivian couldn’t believe it. Due to the results, there was no need for chemotherapy and she is now on six-monthly check-ups.
Vivian has her life back and remains living in Dublin and enjoys travelling over to London to see her family, and her three grandchildren. ‘I enjoy every day. I don’t moan about trivia, and I will do anything that I can to help Dr Gleeson and other patients. I have nothing but deep admiration for the work that is done by the Gynaecological Cancer service at St James’s.’
For the past two years, Vivian, along with her cousin Marie, have fundraised for GynaeCancerCare appeal, by doing the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon. Over the past two years, they have raised over €8,000 for GynaeCancerCare. They will be out again this year, and Vivian would love to see as many people as possible, join her.