devastating | 

Kerry mum with terminal cancer says ‘every minute I have left is for my kids’

In June Lisa Broderick’s world was turned upside down when told she had only five years to live

Lisa with her children, Holly (13) and Paddy (11). Photo by Michelle Breen Crean.

Stephen FernaneKerryman

In June 2022 Lisa Broderick’s world was turned upside down when told she had only five years to live due to terminal cancer.

Having received the all-clear for breast cancer in 2020, getting the devastating blow of stage 4 cancer two years later has left Lisa (47) committed to dedicating the time left to her children.

Holly (13) and Paddy (11) are totally dependent on their mother. Lisa’s eldest daughter Siun (23) works and lives in Dublin. Lisa tells me she now accepts that she may not see Holly and Paddy reach their 20s.

Lisa, who lives in Abbeydorney, thought her cancer was behind her. She put the recurrence of shoulder and rib pain down to her job, which involved driving her car a lot as a Home Help with the HSE. But an MRI and CT scan later confirmed Lisa had two tumours in her liver.

She remains stoical in the face of her illness; she is strong and talks about the need to stay positive. Her motherly instinct - to be there for her children - is given greater significance.

“Life for me is about today and now,” she says.

“Every minute I have left is for my children. They are my priority. You cope, that’s all you can do, just cope. A diagnosis like this changes everything.”

Lisa said her life is now all about maintenance: maintaining her time, her health, and her emotions. She declines to look too far ahead for whatever it is life has in store. Undergoing treatment has also taught Lisa to live her life in minutes.

“Once I can get up, get them to school and do what I have to do to run my house, I will do it. I don’t look outside of that. You’re living in the moment the whole time. I don’t look ahead anymore, that’s gone,” she explains.

Try as she might to limit the mental drift that comes with worrying about her diagnosis, Lisa is staying rooted to the time she has.

“You could be sitting down with the kids at night watching TV and it might come through my head, the feeling of panic might set in. Then I say to myself: ‘we’re here now and we’re all fine’. That’s the only way I can get through it,” she explains.

Lisa said her children are learning to deal with sharing in her emotions. They have had therapy and Lisa is intent on anchoring them as much as she can with their childhood environment.

“They know and are aware of everything. There have been ups and downs. The reality of having kids and being in this situation is to say: ‘it’s down the road’. It’s about the homework and activities. But you are propping them up at the same time, there’s no doubt about that. The aim is to keep our life as normal as we can,” she says.

The combination of intense treatment and subsequent tiredness forced Lisa to give up her full-time job. She had no choice but to give in to the side effects that come with a treatment designed to prolong her life.

This is creating an added pressure she can do without: the pressure of coping financially. No matter how strong a person is when they receive a life-limiting diagnosis, stability for those left behind becomes a factor.

A friend of Lisa set up a GoFundMe page to assist with the financial burden. The funds will be security for her children’s future and would give Lisa peace of mind when it’s most needed.

Lisa is already aware of the financial instability that comes with being out of work due to illness. When first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, times were financially difficult for Lisa and her family.

“I remember feeling like I sailed through the treatment. The biggest worry for me was the financial aspect at that time,” she says.

“I remember reading an article about a guy who gave up work because his wife had cancer. He went into a supermarket one day and was told his card had insufficient funds. I can totally relate to that feeling,” Lisa says.

“It [finance] would mean one less worry for us. I just wouldn’t be able to work now. My children are my priority; I will cancel anything if I feel it takes from my time with them. We will plan and do what we can with the few years we’ve been given.”

The GoFundMe link is:

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