Meg Curran nee Wiley pictured above with her husband Paul and sons Jack, 5, and Scott, 4
A COMPASSIONATE young Limerick mother who has been diagnosed with incurable breast cancer is determined to embrace the true spirit of Christmas — she will cook dinner for 16 of her nearest and dearest on Tuesday before organising a massive fundraiser in aid of the Mid-Western Cancer Foundation.
Meg Curran, nee Wiley, a native of Kilmallock, is battling stage four metastatic breast cancer. But instead of dwelling on the negative, the vibrant mum-of-two is focusing on making memories — after treating her family to Christmas Day dinner she will set about putting the finishing touches to Pinkalicious, the giant fundraiser taking place in Houlihan’s 41 Bar in Kilmallock on January 5.
“Some people say ‘but you are so well, how can you be when you have this?’ Well I am. I don’t know how I am but I am,” Meg, 39, told the Leader this week.
“Metastatic breast cancer, which I have, isn’t common. If you are diagnosed with it, I want to show that you can be like me, you can be OK, you can keep going, get up and get on with it.”
Meg’s journey began in March of this year when she discovered a lump in her breast. The lump, she says, seemed to appear overnight but didn’t worry her. Meg knew a lot of women who found lumps and bumps especially before their menstrual cycle, which turned out to be glands or cysts.
Meg’s 9.30am appointment on March 20 on the fourth floor of the breast clinic in University Hospital Limerick didn’t cause her any concern. She went alone thinking “I’ll be in and out, no problem”. By 11.30am however, things were different. The female doctor and nurse showed her to the “quiet room” - a room Meg had passed a few times that day and thought to herself, ‘that must be the bad news room’. And now here she was sitting in this room waiting to be told her own bad news.
The doctor explained to Meg that both her breasts and lymph nodes were cancerous.
Meg would need a double mastectomy.
The next step was to have a CT of the thorax and liver and a bone scan to ascertain if the cancer has spread.
Meg had the tests done privately to speed up the process. She had the scans and results back within a week.
Meg paid another visit to the “quiet room” and, unfortunately, the news wasn’t good. It was confirmed that Meg has stage four metastatic breast cancer. The disease had spread to other organs. No surgery. No cure. Just a case of managing the disease as best as possible.
“This was the beginning of our terrible new journey, a journey no one wants to take but, unfortunately, is one which more and more people are taking every day”.
Meg started chemotherapy in April and finished it in August. She decided to shave her head before allowing her hair to fall out. She decided a wig isn’t for her and is wearing fashionable chemo caps instead.
“It’s only hair,” she says, “It will grow back.”
The daughter of Eileen and the late John Wiley who ran a successful tarmacadam business, Meg is the youngest of five.
She married Paul Curran, a west Cork man in 2011 and they are parents to two beautiful boys Jack, 5, and Scott, 4.
“They’re fine,” she says of her beloved boys. “It is our reality we have to get on with it”.
The aim of Pinkalicious, she says, is to raise awareness of the good work being done by breast care staff and to show that life can go on as normal after being diagnosed with “this terrible disease”.
“And it’s about creating memories,” she smiles.
Founded by Meg’s oncologist Professor Rajnish Gupta the aim of the Mid-Western Cancer Foundation in UHL is to streamline donations and provide holistic care for people in the Mid-West.
“Funds raised also go towards the ongoing research into this disease that is affecting more and more people every day. The foundation offers a range of services including counselling, social work, and support to people affected and also to their families.”
To support the Pinkalicious event on January 5 you can purchase tickets in Keatings Pharmacy Kilmallock, Houlihan's 41 Bar, The Hair Boutique in Kilmallock or contact Meg on 087 4188574. Tickets are priced at €20 which also includes entry into a raffle.
“It will be a night to remember and I would like to thank all the sponsors and everyone who has supported the event and to wish everyone a Merry Christmas,” says Meg.
Meg’s close friend Niamh Webb O’Rourke who is helping to organise the event along with Clodagh Houlihan said Meg’s determination “to fight this until the bitter end is incredible”.
“I have lived across the road from Meg my entire life and while we may not be blood related, she is like the big sister I never had. I adore her two boys Jack and Scott and they are basically our adopted family. The day Meg got her news and rang my mum for the two of us to come over to her, we knew straight away it wasn't good news. While our emotions obviously took control, Meg kept telling myself and mum to stop crying that she will fight this and that could not be more true.
“I have never in my life witnessed anyone as resilient as Meg, her determination to fight this until the bitter end is incredible. I have laughed, cried and sat in silence with Meg on this terrible journey with her family and friends. I am honored to know Meg and to support her with her Pinkalicious event in January. She is one in a million and I can't thank her enough for showing me how to live, enjoy and love life".
For anyone diagnosed with cancer in recent times, Meg has these words of wisdom: “Speak to your oncologist and have faith in them. Go with what feels right for you. And speak to people. Don’t bottle it up.”