Mum and daughter have ‘greater bond’ after getting cancer diagnoses weeks apart

Margaret Wallace, 55, and her daughter Maria O’Neill, 28, from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, were told they had cancer a few weeks apart but are now “stronger” for it

Margaret Wallace, 55, and her only child, Maria O’Neill, 28, from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, were told they had cancer weeks apart

A mum has said she and her daughter are now “stronger” and have a “greater bond” after both receiving shock cancer diagnoses in the space of a few weeks

Margaret Wallace, 55, and her only child Maria O’Neill, 28, from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, were both given the harrowing news just five weeks apart.

Mum-of-one Maria, who works as a nurse, was scrubbing fake tan off in the shower when she found a lump in her breast, which turned out to be cancerous in July.

Gran-of-one Margaret was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August – but thought the symptoms she suffered, including stomach pains and vomiting, were due to the stress of her daughter’s illness.

The double diagnosis has left the family reeling but they are putting on a brave face for Maria’s daughter, Mila, aged two.

Margaret said that the mother and daughter are now ‘stronger’ for the experience


Maria O’Neill / SWNS)

Margaret said the support of her family including 10 siblings, and her colleagues at Coathill Hospital, Coatbridge, here she has worked for 26 years had helped her.

Margaret said: “The support in my workplace, they’re like my second family.

“It has made me and Maria stronger.

“We were always close but it’s made us so much stronger. The bond is greater.”

Maria said: “I found it by accident in the shower.

“I’m guilty of not checking myself, thank God I did. Despite being a nurse and telling everyone else to look after themselves, it was something that I never did.

“It was my mum’s birthday and I had put on fake tan the night before. I scrubbing it off and that was the reason I found it.

Maria said she discovered that she had a lump in the shower


Maria O’Neill / SWNS)

Maria said that her daughter Mila has not been affected by the cancer diagnoses


Maria O’Neill / SWNS)

“Thank God for fake tan.”

She was diagnosed in mid July and started chemotherapy, and will undergo breast removal and reconstruction surgery in January before a course of radiotherapy.

Margaret, who works as a hospital caterer, was diagnosed in early August and began chemo.

She faces going under the knife after her course of treatment is finished.

Maria said: “Compared to other people, I have been quite fortunate with the side effects.

“I’m mainly just a bit tired but I can kind of keep up a normal life. I’m trying to keep life as normal as I can for my daughter.

“The main thing I was worried about was hair loss, because she is only two, although she’s clever, she doesn’t really understand.

“I was worried she would be scared of me without hair but she has been amazing.

“It’s not bothered her at all. She just says ‘Mummy needs a wee rest’ and comes and lies on the couch with me.

“She takes my mind off it and keeps me going. If I put on a face for her, then it does make me feel a wee bit better.”

“When I first went to the GP, because I felt really well, he said, ‘It’s probably just a bit of fibrous tissue because you look well and you’re too young.’

Maria said she has tried to carry on as normal a life as possible for her daughter


Maria O’Neill / SWNS)

“It didn’t feel like anything worrying. It was a complete shock, I didn’t have any other symptoms.”

Margaret had stomach pains and was vomiting, causing her to go to accident and emergency where she was diagnosed with cancer.

She had first thought these symptoms were a result of the stress of her daughter’s shock diagnosis.

Margaret said: “I just couldn’t believe it.

“I put it down to worrying about Maria.

“I couldn’t believe I could go to A&E in the morning and come out with a cancer diagnosis at night.”

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