A Survivor’s Personal Story: From A Patient to A Happy Person


Sarah Quigley

Childhood Cancer Survivor, Dublin, Ireland

pMy name is Sarah Quigley and I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Stage2B cancer in 1999. That was 17 years ago, when I was 16 years old. I underwent 6 months of chemotherapy and 4 weeks of radiotherapy. My story is probably very similar to many people who were “cured” of cancer at a young age. I had just lost a year of my life to an illness and I didn't want to lose any more time. There was no clear information about what tests I should do and when, so I stopped going to appointments, and I went on with creating a life I wanted. I now have an amazing husband, a beautiful baby girl and a job I love. Unfortunately the pregnancy and birth of my baby girl Zoe brought with it some serious health issues. My doctors were slow to recognise that these were related to my cancer treatment. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and have a cluster of nodules on my thyroid. I also suffered with mild cardiac failure at the end of my pregnancy, which was due to mitral valve regurgitation. My heart was probably damaged by the cancer treatment I received, but I had no information about the long term side effects of childhood cancer and, thus, I was not prepared for any of these issues. I believe that, if either me or my doctors could have accessed the right information at that time, I would have been monitored for the early signs of these illnesses, and I could have been spared from this traumatic and stressful experience. Being in the position of a patient leaves you very vulnerable, it makes you question your health and worry about the future. Everyone shares these worries, but information about the side effects of childhood cancer treatment exists. Information that can make the survivors journey easier, knowledge that can allow us to become advocates for our own health. Being equipped with this information has allowed me to feel in control of my life again. I still worry a lot about my health, but I feel happier after attending the PanCareSurFup European Conference in Brussels knowing that there are people working to develop the necessary information. I think the Survivorship Passport will be a very helpful tool for doctors and patients, and that there are organisations doing a great job to promote the long term well-being of cancer survivors. I feel more positive about the future for childhood cancer survivors.