Tallaght mother Strictly against Breast Cancer
By Mary Dennehy
A TALLAGHT mother who is behind an online support group for women diagnosed with breast cancer is taking to the floor with a line-up of celebrity dancers for this year’s gala Strictly against Breast Cancer.
Teresa Costello (36), who works for UDG Healthcare in Citywest, was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2013, after which she helped establish Facebook support page, Breast Friends – due to a lack of support and awareness for people who were diagnosed under the age of 40.
Due to her positivity and determination, Teresa was invited to take part in this year’s Strictly against Breast Cancer and has partnered up with Ireland AM weatherman, Deric Hartigan – who together will dance off against personalities including Norah Casey (Dragon’s Den), George McMahon (Fair City), former rugby hooker Shane Byrne and more.
Despite a busy rehearsal schedule, Teresa took five to speak with her local paper.
What was the first thought that went through your head when you were diagnosed with breast cancer?
I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in August 2013. There were many initial thoughts, it’s a very surreal experience like watching someone else life unfold, many emotions flash through your head, but the one that sticks out was about my son, he was only five and for some reason a fear was triggered in me that I wouldn’t be around for his First Holy Communion, but he’s making it in May and I guess that makes it an extra special celebration for me. It’s a major milestone in his life and I am so grateful to be happy and healthy sharing it with him.
Why did you set up Breast Friends?
Breast Cancer is a very lonely illness, full of unknowns. When I was first diagnosed and knew I had to get chemo, I just didn’t know what to expect and having a doctor or a nurse give me the information didn’t help me.
A friend of my cousin who had already been through cancer met with me and talked to me about the treatment and his own experience, I found speaking to someone “normal” really helped. I like to think of the page as a place where nobody needs feel alone while going through this.
I can answer any question they may have about any aspect of the illness or treatment. It is also a place where not only the patient can get information and advice but also their friends and family members.
Fear of the unknown is much worse than when you know what you have to face so I like to share my experiences and let others share theirs so everyone has a clear picture of what lies ahead.
From your own experience, what would be your number one piece of advice for women that have being recently diagnosed?
Please don’t be too scared. You can get through it. You don’t have to give up living your life during treatment. Listen to your body when you are tired and rest, don’t give yourself a hard time if you can’t do everything you did before. Accept help from loved ones when you need it. Where you are right now is only temporary things will get better.
What was the best advice or support given to you?
My cousin attended all of my chemo sessions with me, we had many laughs and he made something that wasn’t very nice into something that I didn’t mind doing.
He was an amazing source of support, he always reminded me to stay positive and that it was just a process that I had to go through to get out the other side and that before I knew it I would be back to myself, the treatment was only for a short time in my life and afterwards I could move forward.
On your Facebook page, you regularly provide beauty tips for women going through treatment. What’s your number 1 beauty tip?
I am an absolute product junkie, I love to try and review new products, beauty treatments, fitness regimes and diets.
During treatment girls do need that extra boost to help them retain their feminity and ensure they feel good about themselves.
I found there was very little information to hand so I researched treatments and products myself. But my No 1 beauty tip would be water, you can never drink enough, it is so important for your skin to be well hydrated.
If you can’t drink water on its own, do what I do and pop some slices of Lemon in your water to add some flavour, try drink a minimum of 2 litres a day.
Has your experience changed your outlook on life?
It really has, although it hasn’t changed me as a person, it stopped me in my tracks and made me re-evaluate my life and what I want from it.
I believe that you must live your life to the fullest and be grateful for it because everything can change in a moment.
It opened my eyes to how many genuine people I had in my life and showed me how kind people can be.
I can honestly say I am happier now than I ever was, for me this experience has led to me being more comfortable in myself and doing what makes me happy.
You have been a hero to many through your Facebook page, who is your hero and why?
My own personal hero is a fellow Breast Cancer Ireland Ambassador called Emma Hannigan, she is an Author from Bray and is currently battling cancer for her 10th time.
I am lucky enough to have worked on some campaigns with Emma and she is an inspiration. She has faced her illness with such positivity and dignity whilst all the time helping others along the way, in the many times I have met and spoken with Emma I have never once hear her complain.
She shows others that your life does not have to come to a standstill because of treatment and she has helped so many people face treatment more educated and less scared.
How did you get involved in Strictly against Breast Cancer?
I am a patient ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland, so Aisling Hurley their CEO asked me if I would be interested in taking part.
I immediately said yes, although I can’t dance very well. It is an amazing event to have been given the opportunity to be involved in and I am happy to be a part of anything that helps raise awareness.
It’s also a nice challenge for me, this time two years ago I was going through Chemo, I was bald and tired so I think I can also show girls on my page how Breast Cancer can be overcome and life can go on.
You’re up against a lot of well-known faces, were you a little star struck when you met anyone?
Yes there are lots of well-known faces taking part this year, I was probably a little star struck by Norah Casey, she has such a presence, but they are all just so nice and we are all there for the same reason to raise awareness for a very important cause that we have all just gelled as a group.
What dances are you doing?
Myself and Deric are doing the Samba to Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child, we have learned our dance and now we are just perfecting it.
Why should people get behind you? How do they support you?
Everyone knows somebody who has been affected by Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer Ireland’s mission is to transform Breast Cancer from what was an often fatal disease to a chronic illness that can be maintained long term through treatment.
Having been through Breast Cancer myself I know the importance of research and how early detection can save lives. Raising funds is vital to progressing with research.
Myself and Deric have a My Charity page and for every €1 donated it counts as a vote for us in the Strictly Competition and we really want to win. I would really appreciate if people could donate as all monies raised go straight to Breast Cancer Ireland.
Strictly against Breast Cancer, which will be hosted by Nicky Byrne, is taking place on November 21 in the Convention Centre Dublin. For further details or tickets visit www.breastcancerireland.ie or visit the Breast Friends Facebook page.
Donate to Teresa and Deric on http://www.mycharity.ie/event/deric_and_teresa_strictly_against_breast_cancer/