"The personal stories I read shocked and saddened me... but most of all, they gave me hope. Hope in a dark tunnel... I wasn’t alone and if other women had been OK then my baby and I would hopefully be OK too."
Laura found a cancerous lump in her breast when she was just 14 weeks pregnant. She is sharing her journey through cancer treatment and beyond to bring hope to other mums and parents.
This is her story...
In 2022, I was 14 weeks pregnant when I found a lump in my breast whilst in the shower. I am a prude and thought it was just hormonal, but a tiny voice inside my head pushed me to call the doctors. ‘You are going to be a Mum of three soon, you better be safe rather than sorry’, it said. So I called my doctor, was seen quite quickly and she reassured me that she thought it was just hormonal but to go to the breast clinic to double check.
The day arrived and I went alone thinking I’d be in and out. When I was scanned, the staff went quiet and that is when I began to worry. They told me I was to have a biopsy then and there. A fear came over me and I had to wait a week for the results. I was called at work and asked to come in within the hour. I knew then it was serious.
I went with a friend, and at 17 weeks pregnant was told that I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer, Stage 2. They had found it early and my prognosis was good. Chemo was to start in three weeks time.
The whole conversation was an out of body experience and I’m glad my friend was there to ask all of the questions as I was just in shock and silent. My whole world had changed in an instant.
For the next 3 weeks, I tried to carry on as normal with my 3 and 5 year old children. My partner was absolutely gutted and silent. I could see the worry on his face and we had some tearful moments together. Night times were the worst as I would lay awake thinking ‘what if?’ and ‘how?’ Constantly worrying about our baby. I had never heard of being pregnant and having cancer.
At my treatment plan appointment, my oncologist told me to cut my hair short as it was long and very curly. I remember thinking I would have a big pregnancy bump and no hair and people would stare at me, and I just couldn’t cope with that as I don’t like attention. My friend was a pioneer for Paxman Scalp Cooling caps and she explained the process to me. In the end, I lost about 40% of my hair, which for me was a big thing because I still felt a bit like me at the time. I am grateful for my life over my hair, but at that time, it’s your identity and cancer can rob you of an awful lot of things.
I was in a dark place for about 3 weeks and I felt so lost and alone. It felt so surreal like it was happening to someone else. I was used to caring for everyone and my biggest fear was who would be doing that now?
I was put in touch with Mummy’s Star via my Macmillan Financial Advisor and I visited their website. I was given a grant to help with my family as I went off sick straight away, I was also assigned a Support Worker (Fiona) and she emailed me once a week and I have had help from others in different departments also.
The personal stories I read shocked and saddened me, made cry, and pray for others and myself, but most of all, they gave me hope. Hope in a dark tunnel. I felt I wasn’t alone and if other women had been OK then my baby and I would hopefully be OK too.
Fiona now feels like a family friend. She has helped me in so many ways. She has opened up so many different avenues for my family and I from recommendations of other charities, to advice and support and well, just by being there to listen. I feel had it not been for her, I would have had a breakdown. I owe Fiona a lot!
I had chemo from May until September. I lost 2 stone, was exhausted and breathless. My friends and family were amazing. Everyone took turns to look after the children during the Summer holidays so my partner could still work and they did not miss out on having fun. We were so blessed with kindness and love from friends, charities and strangers.
I had the genetic testing to be told ‘it was just bad luck’ but I tried not to dwell on that. We found out our baby was a girl and that was so uplifting during a stressful time. I was induced at 39 weeks and had an emergency c-section. Our beautiful daughter Faith was born in early October. The moment I met her, a massive weight lifted knowing she was out safely and was well.
I had a lumpectomy when she was 4 weeks old. I was given the all clear in November. I felt numb when I was given the news because you do still worry. Again, it didn’t feel real.
My loved ones rejoiced. I was relieved that I could now focus on being a Mum again. I had radiotherapy daily for three weeks in February. I now have yearly mammograms and I’m back to work in September.
My journey has been eventful. Some parts ugly, some parts beautiful. I am not the same person I was. I feel like a better person, more aware of how precious we all are and more grateful for everything. The mental health side of things hit me after but only because it was a fast whirlwind and you need time to reflect on everything. I didn’t have that time as a busy Mum but also, I think it was a defense mechanism to forget what had just happened. I am still working on me.
I truly believe our daughter let me know I had cancer from my hormones making my boobs bigger and more apparent, and I also believe that she saved my life. I owe her a lot, alongside Fiona. Each baby is a blessing and I hope one day she knows how very special she is to me, her family and my friends.
I would like to thank Mummy’s Star for being such an incredible charity. Without you, my family and I would have suffered so much more. Fiona, you are an Earth Angel and I thank you also. One day I would love to give back and volunteer in some way with Mummy’s Star but for now I hope my story will help someone else who unfortunately finds themselves in a similar position.
To anyone reading…never give up hope and always have faith. You are stronger than you think.