Her gruelling battle against the disease was made ever harder by the news that her beloved husband, Eric, had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2014.
During these dark times, the 60-year-old found herself, and her smile, again by joining the Wardie branch of Sing in the City choir.
Now brave Irene will sing for the crowds at the Race for Life at Holyrood Park on June 14, before joining a 50-strong team from her choir in the 10km race.
Irene, who lives in Trinity, said: “Going through cancer really makes you appreciate that life is not a dress rehearsal.
“It helped me see that this is the real thing so if you have something that you’ve always wanted to do then now is the time to do it. Singing in a choir was always on my bucket list and I’m so proud to be doing it now.”
Former nurse Irene was diagnosed with cancer in October 2007 after noticing changes to her right breast when she was on holiday.
She endured surgery on her 53rd birthday the next year to have the lump removed then went through an exhausting programme of chemotherapy and radiotherapy before being given the all-clear.
But in a cruel twist, husband Eric, 63, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, forcing the couple to confront the disease again.
Irene said: “I was supporting my husband through cancer but Wednesday night was my night, a chance to go out for an hour and just sing. It helped so much to lift the spirits and I’ve made some great friends.”
Irene and Eric are now both clear of cancer and she is calling on people to take part in the inspiring race, which raised £2.9 million in Scotland last year.
Irene said: “As a cancer survivor I know first hand the incredible difference women who take part in Race for Life 10k can make to people like me – that’s what will keep me going.”
Cancer survival rates have doubled since the 1970s but more funds are needed as Cancer Research UK spends around £34m a year in Scotland alone.
Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK’s spokeswoman in Scotland, said: “Every hour, around three people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland. That’s why, whether you’re a novice or a running pro, we need you to lace up your trainers and limber up for Race for Life 10k.”
To enter the Race for Life 5km or 10km race, visit www.raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.
Sing in the City has 460 members in the Edinburgh, Musselburgh and Dunfermline areas. For more details, go to www.choiredinburgh.co.uk