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Young mum reveals reality of life with incurable lung cancer

Marina Wild is the 40-year-old mother of a two-year-old daughter; an artist and illustrator living with her partner in An Spidéal. She has also been living with a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer for over five and a half years and on palliative treatment since August 2022.

Marina, who is originally from Germany, is telling her story as part of the Marie Keating Foundation Big Check Up campaign for Lung Cancer Awareness Month – and also because she feels the disease is a taboo for a lot of people, which she says ‘compounds the isolation we feel as young lung cancer patients’.

“I have some amazing support from family, friends and professionals, but we live within a culture that equates strength with suppression,” she says.

Marina was diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer when she was aged 34.

It was, to put it mildly, a total shock as Marina was young, active and never smoked. Her cancer was caused by a specific gene rearrangement which accounts for around five per cent of lung cancer cases and disproportionately affects young fit never-smokers.

Lung cancer is currently the biggest cancer killer in Ireland with 2,690 Irish people every year receiving that devastating diagnosis.

Just 24% of people will be alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis, according to the National Cancer Registry Ireland.

Lung cancer is the fourth most common in Ireland after prostate, breast and colorectal – but it is Ireland’s biggest cancer killer.

The day that changed everything began with an early morning appointment at the German Embassy to renew my passport; that was in March 2018 and she and husband John (Caulfield) were in a hotel in Dublin.

“In the middle of the night I woke with acute, stabbing chest pain on the right side that got worse when breathing in. I sat on the floor looking up potential causes,” she recalls.

“I remember seeing the words ‘lung cancer’ and thinking you always find the worst possible reason online – but I finally managed to go back to sleep. In the morning I felt fine, but I was concerned enough to go to my GP when I was back in Galway.

“Several weeks of appointments and tests followed, with each result more alarming once muscular pain and atypical pneumonia had been ruled out, and I was eventually diagnosed with advanced lung cancer – adenocarcinoma, stage IIIa, inoperable because one of the affected lymph nodes was in the mediastinum.”

Caption: Marina Wild.

Read Marina’s full, extraordinary and searingly honest story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

For more information about lung cancer signs and symptoms, you can go to

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