15. Treatment begins – chemotherapy in Istanbul

For the first time this week, since all of this happened almost 10 months ago, I thought why me? I am finally feeling sorry for myself. It’s so unfair. I don’t want to be going through this. And by going through this, I mean the treatment part. It’s so harsh on my body. Everything I’ve done up to now in terms of healing has been non-invasive and felt good. But this feels so bad. I got my first dose of chemotherapy on Wednesday and I’ve been so ill since. I haven’t been able to eat. I’ve had a horrible taste in my mouth which comes and goes and makes me balk when it’s here. The thoughts of eating make me feel sick too. I’ve had constant nausea, have vomited and have had diarrhoea. I’m so weak from not being able to eat, I feel like my poor body is fading away. All I can do is sip ginger tea, drink water and sleep it off where I can. It really has hit me like a tonne of bricks. My doctor said today that I looked stronger than I am. He was right. This is a complete shock to the system and I’m not used to feeling so bad. So this is what chemo is like? Does this feeling last long? I’ll be getting my second dose on Wednesday again. Today is Friday so I have a few days in between to recover. I honestly feel like I could never eat again. I really hope I get my appetite back soon. I was 50.4kg (just under 8 stone) when they weighed me in the clinic on Wednesday. I’m afraid to look at the scales now. I suppose even if I do lose some more weight, at least I’m not in the danger zone. Would 6 stone be the danger zone? I have a way to go yet till I get there, hopefully that doesn’t happen though. I already feel like I look like a skeleton!

Chemo drip.jpeg

I have to say I am feeling really looked after here in the clinic. They are so professional and the place is immaculate. All of the equipment is top of the range. I’ve been in every day since we arrived for various treatments. I have been getting hyperthermia which heats the body to 38 degrees putting it into a fever state and allowing it to kill off pathogens. I have had hyperbaric oxygen treatments where I lie in a decompression chamber and am flooded with oxygen, allowing it to kill off cancer cells too. And I’ve had loads of infusions of various types of vitamins and other natural substances to support healing and kill off cancer cells. I think I might have mentioned some of these treatments in my earlier post on alternative therapies. So it’s full on and my body is in complete shock with all that’s happening! I’m only able for clinic and home to bed. Haven’t seen much of the city at all and I couldn’t care less at the moment, I just want to feel better! All I want is tea and toast but I’m back on the ketogenic diet so can’t have any carbs at all. I’m crying inside for myself! Are ye feeling sorry for me yet? Poor me!!


I’ve gotten my schedule and I’ll be going home when I’m on my 10 days off. This is for two reasons really. First is that I have to comply with the visa rules which state I cannot stay more than 90 days in a 180 day period. I would be violating that if I was to stay for the whole summer. And if I need to stay for more than the recommended 5 treatments, I would definitely be going over that and wouldn’t be able to continue with treatment here. The second reason is that the clinic advise clients to go home for their own mental wellbeing. It is too hard to be away from family especially if you have children. I miss Ali so much already and we’re not even here a week. She has been a trooper though and we’ve been Skyping her twice a day. She was all on for talking away to us and blowing us kisses the first few days but she was cranky with me this morning and didn’t want to say hi. Tracey said she woke up crying for me. This is heart-breaking. It will be another week before I get to see her. I’m hoping she might come meet us at the airport, I haven’t dropped that hint yet but it might happen? In good news though, she has stopped being so fussy about her footwear (the bane of our lives!) and she’ll wear any of her shoes now. She was so attached to her old runners which were falling apart, I had to hide them on her! And then she became obsessed with wellies and of course won’t wear socks so the ankles were taking a bashing! She’s now wearing sensible shoes which is great. Still not into wearing socks though, maybe this next week will sort that out! Tracey and Abbie are doing such a great job of minding her, she is so happy with them. We are so grateful she gets to keep some sense of normality while we’re away. I just hope this separation over the summer doesn’t damage her in any way.  I have to keep reminding myself to think of the bigger picture.


Well there you have it folks, a pretty miserable blog post to say the least! It’s weird for me not to be feeling upbeat but I’m not, so I’m not going to pretend I am. This is the hardest part yet and it will get harder as the summer goes on but the end point is going to be so good. I can’t wait to come home now for the 10 days off. People have asked if they can visit but I’m saying no for now. I’m in the home stretch and I just want to chill and spend time with Ali and my family when I get home. Had a lovely week of seeing friends and family before we came away and we’ll have a big celebration in September when I’m home and cancer free and all this is behind us.

A word on fundraising… The page has reached almost €50k which is really unbelievable! Thank you so much to every single person who donated, big or small, it all adds up and it is because of you that I’m able to come here to get help. There was a coffee morning in my home town of Strokestown this morning which raised over €3500 (a massive amount for a coffee morning!) and it looks like everyone from the town showed up to support me. I heard of a local man who seen some commotion and didn’t know what was going on but followed the cake into the pub and found a feast! Thank you to the Central Bar for hosting, to Eileen, Vivienne, Angela and Sheila for organising and to everybody who donated, baked, offered raffle prizes and came to offer support. I had a few weepy moments earlier when I saw all of the photos and such amazing support from my local community.



There are a few more confirmed events happening in the coming weeks. A bag pack is organised in Dunnes Stores in Roscommon town on the 16th and 17th of June and a bucket collection is happening the following day on Sunday the 18th at the Roscommon match. Massive thank you to Sharon, Martina M, Martina H, Ellie Ann, Jackie, Tracey and my mam (I hope I’m not forgetting anybody!?). A lot of work goes in to this and I am so appreciative. Also thank you to everybody who has volunteered their time to help out at these events. It’s not easy to give up your weekend! I have to pinch myself sometimes to think that all of this kindness is for me. It’s mad!

There is a fundraising page on Facebook with details of events coming up including the night in Carrick on June 30th being organised by the legend that is Brian Crowe! I hear there will be a beard shave off, men’s chest waxing and other kinds of torture happening on the night. Talks of a Wellness Walk in Dublin in July being organised by Lisa Murray, sign up on the page if you’d like to get involved.

Phew! This is too much. THANK YOU to every single person who is doing their bit to help me out. It will be worth the effort, I promise! Love to you all!

P.S. The gratitude I feel from writing those last couple of paragraphs has cheered me up no end. I might just get out of bed for a while now!

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  1. Can’t even begin to imagine how tough all of this is Mairead. We’re thinking of you, everyday, lots of love Bridgeen, Fintan, Evie xx

  2. Hi mairead from one breast cancer survivor to another, congrats on what you have achieved your an inspiration. My breast cancer had also spread to two sentinel nodes and the fear of recurrence is with me every hour and minute of the day. Reading your blog has giving me hope.


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