'my diagnosis was a complete shock'
Louise was diagnosed at 25 weeks pregnant with her second baby. In Louise's case a large swelling appeared on her neck at 15 weeks pregnant. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. All of the common symptoms of cancer were masked by her pregnancy.
This is her story…
'I had lost weight, but had experienced some morning sickness so I was not able to keep food down and I didn’t feel like eating. I was tired most of the time, but at 15 weeks pregnant, I was working full time as a teacher and looking after my 18 month old little boy, who wouldn’t be a bit tired!
My diagnosis was a complete shock. I was told from the very beginning that the lump in my neck was nothing to worry about and that I just had an infection that needed treating with antibiotics. As soon as I was diagnosed, I had to be signed off work as a teacher because there was a high risk of picking up an infection while on chemotherapy. All of my antenatal care was moved from my local hospital to St Mary’s in Manchester which was over an hour away. This was a very difficult decision to make as I really wanted to have my baby in the same hospital as my son was born. I also had to come to terms with the fact I couldn’t breast feed our new baby. This is the only part of my treatment that I still struggle with. I fed my little boy right up to 21 months and only stopped feeding him just 4 days before my diagnosis.
I live with my amazing partner Dave, my little boy Harry and we have since been joined by baby Amelia. My normality was going home with our new baby girl. After all the treatment and spending days in hospital, just going home was the best feeling ever. It meant I had a break from chemo too which helped us to just have family time and get used to being a family of four.
My family have been amazing, my sister Kathryn ran the Manchester Half Marathon in May for Mummy’s Star and raised an amazing amount. She has helped make me feel normal throughout everything I have been through. Dave has been an absolute superstar through everything and has always been at my side for all of my chemo sessions. He is the best daddy that Amelia and Harry could ask for. My mummy friends are the only people who could literally get away with throwing a 'you’ve got cancer party'! They have all been there for me every step of the way!
Mummy’s Star provided me with access to the forum where I can openly chat with other mums in the same situation as me. I can ask any question during the day or night and someone will respond as they know exactly what I am going through. Mummy’s Star also provided a grant which paid for Dave and my family to stay in Manchester while I was being induced. This meant that I could still see my little boy and keep some normality during a very difficult time for us all. Mummy’s Star also contacted me several times to discuss my treatment options and helped me to make decisions about what was happening during my pregnancy. This was invaluable and provided me with so much information to help me get through treatment.
My advice to anyone going through this is don't feel scared to ask a daft question. I wrote a list of sensible questions, but Dave laughed at me when I asked if I could still get my nails done! Sadly the answer to the nails was a no!'