I’m writing this in the wee small hours the night before I go to hospital to have surgery. I’m going to have a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction and also have my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. It’s almost a year to the day that I was diagnosed with Grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma. I’ve had two surgeries, 6 rounds of chemotherapy, 15 sessions of radiotherapy and been tested for the pathogenic mutation of the BRCA2 gene, which was positive. This puts me at high risk for breast cancer developing in my other breast and for ovarian cancer.
To say I’m freaking out is an understatement. I’ve spent the year in this weird twilight zone where I’ve been disassociated from my body but now the trauma and anxiety is hitting me full on and, I’m not going to lie, it’s really tough.
I’ve had a lovely evening with my Dark and Twisty Lover, eating icecream and watching a romcom and just as we were heading to bed, I checked my phone and there was a message that the artist and singer Nancy Falkow McBride has passed away at 49, from ovarian cancer.
I found Nancy a number of years ago when I was looking for local crafts to gift as teacher presents when we lived in Co. Wicklow. I’d seen her gorgeous sea glass pictures online and decided to buy some of her gorgeous book marks. I arranged to go down and see what I could choose from her work so I arranged to call into her house in Kilcoole with my then 3 year old toddler.
Nancy was warm, funny, immediately welcoming and kind. She hailed from Pennsylvania in the USA and I discovered through the course of the conversation that she was a musician as well. We had a ton to talk about and I wished I could have bought a whole lot of her beautiful work. I liked her a lot and I wanted her work to have a wide audience. We talked about getting her on my emerging podcast which we never quite sorted and for that I’m full of regret.
Over the years, I went to her for special gifts. I bought one of her stunning sea glass necklaces for a dear friend in France who had moved inland and missed the sea terribly. And for Father’s Day two years ago, after we’d moved up north, I bought a gorgeous little picture of a family of five little sea glass birds for my Dark and Twisty Lover. He loved it.
When I was diagnosed last year, Nancy was one of the first to reach out and cheer me on, sharing that she had also been on a cancer journey but she was pushing on and moving forward. She was hugely involved in her local community, supporting and facilitating women business owners to support local charities and campaigning for broader educational opportunities in Wicklow.
Our daughters are the same age and I can only imagine the devastation her girl feels losing her mum.
I’m so grateful to Nancy for her beautiful art , her effervescent personality and her love of the sea.
I’m so sad at her passing. I send my love and best wishes at this time to her family.
To read more about this wonderful woman, you can read here