A Dublin garda has told how she got promoted to sergeant while battling breast cancer – but insists that she doesn’t 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.
The mum of two was on holidays with her parents when she discovered a lump on her breast.
“I 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,” she told RSVP Live.
“I went to my GP with a sore throat and said ‘By the way, would you mind looking at this lump?’
“I was kind of embarrassed, as Irish people tend to be. I was trying to play it down, not make a big deal.”
Further tests confirmed the news she didn’t want to hear – she had breast cancer.
“It was definitely the worst day of my life,” she said.
“My world just collapsed. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t think. I just went completely numb.
“In my own head, I already had myself dead and buried.”
Sharon then had to get a mastectomy, which she said was a “horrific” experience.
“You hear the word ‘mastectomy’ but it’s only when it’s been done to you that you realise what it’s actually like,” she admitted.
“Actually having a part of your body removed…It changes your identity, your femininity, everything.
“I felt butchered, there’s no other way to describe it.”
Just two weeks after the mastectomy, Sharon had an interview to be promoted to the rank of sergeant.
“I was determined to do the interview because I just thought, cancer isn’t going to define me and it’s not going to stop me from progressing in my life,” she explained.
“The promotion was something to hold onto for my future, it was something to work towards and something that gave me hope.”
That same day, she got a phone call informing her the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.
“I was told I had triple negative breast cancer, only about 15% to 20% of people with breast cancer have that type and there’s no targeted treatment for it,” she said.
“So I had to go through 16 rounds of chemo, followed by 20 sessions of radiotherapy.
“Losing 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.
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.
She said she’s looking forward to the challenge and seizing the moment much more than she used to.
“I 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.
“I see life completely differently now. It’s only since being diagnosed with cancer that I really see the world, I really appreciate every morning.
“I don’t sweat the small stuff, I don’t worry about what people think of me.
“You don’t know what life is going to throw at you – I’ve tried to turn this negative situation into a positive.”
Do you have a story to tell? Please email email@example.com or contact us via social media