My name is Olive Shaughnessy and I’m from Loughrea, Co. Galway. I am a wife and mother of four small children ranging in ages from three to ten years. On the 19th of December 2014, I collapsed and lost consciousness while visiting Galway City on a Christmas outing, with three of my children and two of their school friends.
On regaining consciousness in hospital I was in the most excruciating pain. I was informed that I had an aggressive form of cancer. Since my diagnosis, I feel that God has been by my side, and I am feeling positive that I can get past this.
Because of this, I have set up a blog, which I hope will give information, inspiration, hope and love to anyone who might like to be a part of it. It is a forum where one can ask questions, offer advice and basically support each other. I am, by no means shape or form, an expert on this shaky uncertain ground but I would like to share my experiences and learn about others in similar circumstances.
Last year I was inspired, and encouraged, to write a book of my journey, and also the journey of my family over the past twelve months. It is a profoundly positive book, which details how my great faith, friends and community have helped me and are continuing to do so.
I have been overwhelmed by the response that I have received from readers both locally and nationally since my book launched on December 10th, 2015. It is therefore my greatest wish to continue to bring my book to a wider audience; and help to give hope and strength to those who need it most.
Being diagnosed with cancer is so life-changing, it brings up emotions, questions and insecurities many of us didn’t even know we had. The transition is a very personal one, it truly affects how you see and feel about everything in your world.
In the hospital whilst waiting to start my chemo, they had to repair my broken neck first. I struggled to find information regarding how to break the news to my loved ones (my children in particular).
After the dust settled and I got my head around it (do you ever really get your head around it?), I felt a sense of urgency to reach out to others and share my experience. The book has been a great personal success as I have received many letters, emails etc. from people locally and from as far away as Austria and America. Because of the great response, I am releasing a second book (which is about to be launched).
In the last few months, I have felt a growing need to reach out again to cancer patients, loved ones and anyone who is affected by cancer; to create a dialogue around cancer, to share and explore topics that affect everyone.
I have developed an app called ‘Cancer Connect’, its aim is to create a supportive network for cancer patients and anyone affected by cancer. Users of the app can chat amongst themselves, whilst feeling safe and supported. You can choose not to give your real name if you do not wish to.
My hope is, that you will feel supported and loved, will gain strength and help accept your situation and regain balance in your life again.
I have observed whilst in the chemo waiting room that people do want to talk. The differences between us seem to melt away as soon as a conversation starts. Patients (and families) really like to make a connection, and enjoy meaningful conversations with others (who are also in the same or similar situation).
I believe that by people sharing their personal experiences in an empowering, supportive and safe place, this can only lead to personal and spiritual growth.
The aim of my app is to serve as a catalyst for healing, growth, and personal empowerment all while building friendships and relationships.