I met Gay Murphy on World Cancer Day, February 4th 2020. It was at an amazing event called Choirs for Cancer in UCD. The atmosphere was electric, we had been listening to beautiful voices from choirs all over Ireland. Everyone there was bursting with joy and positivity. A wonderful event organised by Precision Oncology Ireland.
Gay introduced herself. I had spoken about Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer and the importance of additional Screening for women with Dense Breasts. We had a lot in common, both living in Wexford, both lovers of singing and music, both of us had Lobular Breast Cancer too.
Gay told me that I was the first person she had heard speaking about Lobular Breast Cancer. I was the first person she had met with a Diagnosis of Lobular Breast Cancer and she had never heard about Breast Density until she had learned about it from Beingdense.com – we stood together in the aisle talking, there was an immediate bond .
With the permission of Gay’s family, I am writing this to ensure that Gay Murphy’s story is heard as part of the Lobular Ireland #LivingWithLobular October Awareness Campaign. Siobhán
In December 2021 Lobular Ireland made a Submission to the NSAC in response to the Minister of Health Public announcement. We collated background information from many of our members. The following are Gay’s own words
It’s Gay Murphy here and here’s my story:
I had a history of breast lumps since 1990 and had numerous mammograms and ultrasounds over the years. I had a mammogram the year before I was diagnosed. I was told it was clear.
I discovered a mass in my right breast in May 2014. I saw my GP who referred me to the Breast Clinic at University Hospital Waterford. June 2014 – I was seen at the Triple Assessment Clinic where I had a mammogram, ultrasound and punch biopsies. On 18th June 2014 – I was diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer. In July I was admitted to University Hospital Waterford (UHW) for right mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy. My nodes were not involved, margins clear. Closest margin was 3mm at the chest wall. Breast tissue was sent for Oncotype DX. In September I was informed my Oncotype DX score was 14, therefore, I did not need chemotherapy.
In November 2018, I felt a lump in my reconstructed breast and informed my Oncologist, I had an ultrasound and 4 biopsies from the area. In December it was confirmed that it was a local recurrence of Lobular breast cancer in my reconstructed breast.
I transferred my care to St. Vincent’s Private Hospital.
In January 2019 I had a mastectomy of reconstructed breast. I had other surveillance scans and an MRI spine confirmed that I had metastases in my spine. In March I started new treatment for Metastatic ILC but in July 2020 – scans showed increased activity in my bones and a tumour in my liver. In August I began another new treatment with Xeloda. By July 2021 scans showed the tumour in my liver was actively growing again and in August 2021, I began another new treatment – Alpelisib, Faslodex and Zometa.
Thank you to all in Lobular Ireland for doing this work, I certainly don’t have the head for it anymore. Best of luck with the submission. Gay
Gay died in St Vincent’s Hospital in September, surrounded by her loving husband Paddy and her children Eoin and Fiona. There was an outpouring of tributes from the numerous organisations around Ireland that Gay was involved in. She was only 60 years old.
Gay set up the Wexford Relay for Life fundraiser in 2016 throwing herself wholeheartedly into the annual July event at Páirc Charman which quickly grew into the most successful one of its kind in the country. The first relay raised €20,000, the third one over €100,000, a virtual event held in 2020 realised an incredible €150,000 and that was surpassed by this year’s figure of €178,000.
Gay Murphy was the spirit of Wexford Relay for Life who was constantly amazed by the generosity of Wexford people towards the fundraiser and so proud of what it was achieving. In 2019, she received a well-deserved South East Radio People of the Year Award for her work.
Despite battling cancer for a fourth time, she attended her last Relay for Life in July and spent time talking to all the participants and cheering them on.
We will forever be grateful to you Gay for your friendship and your advocacy work for Lobular Breast Cancer and improved Screening for women with Dense Breasts. You have left our world a better place, and we are blessed to have known you.
From all your Lobsters – Go raibh míle maith agat, slán agus suaimhneas síoraí x