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Brave Fighter Mother-of-one Leanne reveals her delight at beating cancer during lockdown and how 'positivity is the key'

For Leanne Molloy the last 14 months have been all about gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and a surgery to remove a tumour from her oesophagus

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Leanne Molloy is grateful to have beaten killer disease

Leanne Molloy is grateful to have beaten killer disease

Leanne Molloy is grateful to have beaten killer disease

Leanne Molloy is emerging from a year-long battle with a killer disease - and it had nothing to do with Covid.

With the world locked in a desperate battle to turn the tide in the war against coronavirus, Castlewellan mother-of-one Leanne had her own struggle to contend with.

The 35-year-old went into lockdown last March having just been diagnosed with cancer - for her the last 14 months have been all about gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and a surgery to remove a tumour from her oesophagus.

Speaking to the Sunday World as charity OGCancer NI launchrd an awareness campaign around oesophago-gastric cancer, she said like so many people she almost didn't go to the doctor despite feeling something was wrong.

"It was in November 2019, we had a wee party for our daughter and I remember eating chips and them getting stuck, it was like the food couldn't go all the way down," she said.

It didn't happen with all foods, she felt fine and despite noticing she was losing weight she put it down to stress or anxiety.

"I am anxious by nature, nervous, I put it down to that, and carried on."

Things got progressively worse, she even came up with a 'jiggle' when she would stand and shake her body forcing the food down the throat, other times she had to make herself physically sick to free the food jammed in her oesophagus.

"I would just shake myself until the food was dislodged, it just became part of my life."

But when she developed a sharp pain in her shoulder, her family doctor immediately sent her to the City Hospital in Belfast.

Even then she almost didn't go. I remember sitting in the house and thinking 'I can't be arsed' - I wasn't going to bother. But (husband) Brian said, 'you're going'.

Sitting in A&E, she almost got up and walked out.

"It was so busy, it was making me anxious."

Thankfully she stayed and underwent a scope procedure as doctors had a look at what causing the obstruction.

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"I was in the recovery room and then Brian came and the doctor came over.

"He said they'd found something, and before he could go on - and I don't know where it came from - but I said 'it's cancer isn't it?' and he said yes.

"I actually thought thank God! I thought I was turning into a hypochondriac!"

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Leane and Brian Molloy

Leane and Brian Molloy

Leane and Brian Molloy

Oesophagal cancer is relatively rare, the most recent figures show 216 people diagnosed in 2016 with men over 50 the most at risk group.

The medics told Leanne her life had just changed drastically, from there on in it would be about endless tests and gruelling treatment.

Luckily for Leanne her treatment went ahead with a punishing course of chemo which started in March last year. And in June she underwent surgery.

"I was told I'd be in ICU for three days, but I was back in the general ward in one day and a week later, on my birthday, I went home.

"I probably came home a little early, but given the pandemic I was just delighted to be home and I think you recover better in the comfort of your own home."

The couple have spared daughter Rhea the stark reality. But Leanne knows the nine-year-old is aware she has been very unwell.

"You know, my hair fell out so it was obvious, but we didn't go into detail with her. If she asks we'll tell her. She did say to me one night 'mummy when are they going to fix you?'

And fix her they have - after a second bout of chemo, Leanne is backing to herself. Back at work, albeit part time, she is learning to enjoy her food again after being fed by tube during her recovery.

"I am flying! 110 per cent. Oh my God I love my food, love a glass of wine, I so appreciate it so much now, I'm learning to eat slowly, taste the food properly.

"Don't take a day for granted. Positivity is the key.

"The City Hospital team have been wonderful, incredible, I can't say enough about them."

For further information go to ogcancerni.com, follow #OGCancerNI, call 07568 157450 or see your local GP.

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