'raw reality' Brave mum (35) with terminal cancer says a breast check 'could save your life'
Eight months into remission from breast cancer, Trina Cleary was given the harrowing news that the disease has spread and is now terminal.
Beautiful, powerful, brave; if there are better words to embody Trina Cleary, Magazine+ cannot find them.
The cancer awareness advocate, who was given the all-clear from breast cancer last year, was in remission for just eight months when she received the devastating news that her cancer had returned and it was terminal.
Having spread to her hip, spine and a section of skull behind her ear, the 35-year-old mum-of-one is now choosing to spread hope in the face of her harrowing prognosis.
In light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Trina is now choosing to educate those around her in a heroic bid to ensure women do not endure a similar fate.
"I did regularly check my breasts before, but I was so naive, I just thought it would never affect me because I was so young."
Discovering a lump just before her 34th birthday, the Wexford native reveals: "Visibly, the left side looked different to the right side; it was swollen and the skin was pulled quite tight and my nipple started to invert, and it was painful at times. I could also feel grizzle under the skin.
"At that point, after a couple of months of being unsure, I knew I had to get it checked, and immediately they knew what it was. I heard cancer and I just thought to myself, 'You're going to die.'
"I found the lump in March 2018 and ignored it for six months, I thought I was too young and it was hormonal, but over the summer it grew, and by the time I went to the doctor, it was 3cm. That's why I would say, never wait."
Enduring eight rounds of chemo and an unsuccessful lumpectomy, the data analyst ran out of options.
"It took me a week to say it out loud, even though it seems like a no-brainer to get it all cut out, but I struggled with the mastectomy. After the operation, I opted for no reconstruction, and I remember I smiled under my oxygen mask when I came round. I knew I had made the right decision."
On a mission to share her own personal story via her uplifting and always unflinching Instagram account @tri_cleary, the warrior woman says: "Sometimes I worry about the pictures I put up on my account, but when people hear breast cancer, they think pretty pink ribbons which is how it is commercialised, but it's not the pink ribbon or the smiley models in the campaigns that have not been touched by cancer - this is the raw reality of it.
"It isn't pretty; it's painful, it burns and it can affect anyone.
"It isn't always a lump. It can be discharge or a rash on the skin, so if you feel anything at all, go and get seen. It could save your life.
"When I had my mastectomy, I was told there was a 25pc chance of a re-occurrence in the other breast, and the chance of it spreading to bones or organs was minimal. I held on to that and I was back to work, happy, truly happy."
Settling into a new relationship with her partner, Stuuy, Trina's whole world collapsed when she was referred for further tests and it was revealed she had terminal cancer in April of this year.
"As soon as I finished my chemotherapy last year, I had a pain in my thigh bone - we thought it was just leftover chemo pain. For whatever reason, it just never showed up on scans. When the news came, it was impossible to digest. The worst things that comes into my head is, 'When is it going to end? Why me? How long do I have left?'
"It is important to feel the feelings and acknowledge them and have a bad day."
Trina is now busily creating a life list with her 13-year-old son, Corey. Above all else, the courageous influencer is documenting her journey and creating a film, The Life Of Tri, the first part of which will be released this December. "It's about raising awareness, reaching as many people as possible, to be body conscious and breast aware. I don't want my own pain and my own journey to be in vain.
"I have people that reach out to me online who say, 'Only for you, I wouldn't check once a month.' "