Sligo woman publishes book about her cancer journey

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A woman from Ballinacarrow has written a book about her brave battle with cancer.

Marie Monnelly has written a book about her experiences.
Marie Monnelly has written a book about her experiences.

Marie Monnelly received her first diagnosis in 2005 when she was writing about her memories of her mother, who passed away due to complications of breast cancer when Marie was just 11-years-old. Marie, a school teacher of 38 years, returned to work just a year after being first diagnosed, but was told that it had spread into her bones and bone marrow in 2013.

She was informed that she will always have cancer but is living on maintenance treatment which includes chemotherapy.

Marie, who grew up in Sligo, reflected on her life in the area and coping with the loss of her mother.

“I lived in Sligo until I was 17, until I left to attend Carysfort College,” she said in an interview with the Irish Daily Mirror.

“I love Sligo and as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to appreciate Sligo an awful lot more.”

“My mum got breast cancer when she was 38. For four years, she was ill. She died when she was 42. I was 11, my brothers were ten and eight and my sister was four.”

Following their devastating loss, Marie fondly remembers the defiance of her father who was determined to raise four kids on his own.

“My father was tremendous. I understand now how big a challenge it was for him. He was fantastic. He became both my mother and father. As I grew older, I realised there was an emotional hole left by my mother’s departure. At that time, people said to get on with it, you weren’t encouraged to talk about your sense of loss. When I had my own children, I thought about her and when I got breast cancer, needless to say I thought about her an awful lot.”

In the years following her death, Marie felt compelled to write about her mother in order to paint an image of her mother for her siblings and grandchildren.

“Even before I got cancer, I felt a need to write about my mother. My brothers and sisters had few memories of her, probably because she was ill. I wrote my memories for them and for my own children so they would know something about the wonderful grandmother that they never met,” she explained.

“Writing about her helped me come to terms with my own challenge.”

Marie, who celebrates her 60th birthday this month, has chosen to mark the occasion by releasing her book ‘From Breast to Marrow-Bone’, which features a selection of her own journals and poems.

“The poems go hand in hand with the journals and explain some ideas I had. It was an outlet and a way of coping. The reaction from the children, family and friends has been so supportive.They felt I was taking a step out of my comfort zone, it’s been a big adventure. I call it the adventure of life because that’s the way I feel life is.”

‘From Breast to Bone-Marrow’ will be officially released on Sunday, September 13.

The book will be available to purchase by e-mailing frombreasttomarrowbone@gmail.com. A number of shops in Sligo will also be stocking it.

The book costs €15 with all proceeds going to The Irish Cancer Society.

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