When I first started thinking about creating Happy Magazine, I wanted Emma Hannigan on the cover. I was going through chemo and my own cancer journey was still very new and frightening. I designed a sample cover with her on it and I day-dreamed about the magazine reaching every cancer treatment centre in Ireland. Emma’s amazing story of survival through so much gave me great hope and even courage to fight my own battle and I wanted to help it give hope to others.
This weekend Emma passed away after her 11-year fight with cancer. When the news came, it grabbed me by the throat and threatened to choke me. I felt desperately sad. If you know me, you know I’m not ‘into religion’, but this weekend I said a prayer for Emma. I prayed she was at peace wherever she was now, free of any pain and suffering. And I prayed for her family, that they could, somehow, find some peace of their own after her passing.
It’s heartbreaking to lose another brave and beautiful woman to breast cancer. Especially someone like Emma, who became a leading light in the fight against breast cancer in Ireland, who helped spread so much awareness of the disease and who met it with such a strong and can-do attitude. Even in her last weeks, her #helpemmahelpothers campaign raised over €100,000 for Breast Cancer Ireland, the charity she was an ambassador for. For those of us going through cancer or who have come through cancer, it’s terrifying to hear of news like this. It makes us question our own situations and it shakes the core of our own cancer journeys.
If you, like me, read the news of Emma’s passing this weekend and felt it frighten you, hear this. You are brave and strong too. You can fight your cancer journey just as strong as she did. You can take hope and courage from her inspirational experience and use it to fuel your own. You can do whatever you want to do. Dream big and then go get it. She would want that. She would want you to stand up and be strong, to fight your battle and storm any challenges that come to you.
It’s ok to feel sad. It’s ok to feel scared. I think we all are right now, and that’s ok. Emma shared this on her Facebook page some time last year and I think it’s just the right message for us all to hear today.
In loving memory of Emma Hannigan. May she rest in peace.