a young mother of two, diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer immediately after giving birth to her son.
I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer when my little boy was 13 days old and my little girl was 16 months old. I had noticed an inverted nipple months previously but put it down to the fact that I had been pregnant while breastfeeding and so my body had gone through a lot of changes. I voiced my concern at the hospital before and after giving birth. Fortunately one of the nurses didn't give up and ensured I got an appointment at the breast centre a few days later.
To say the diagnosis rocked our world would be an understatement. We were in shock and petrified.
"There will be tough days mentally, physically and emotionally, but be kind to yourself and keep talking" -
It all felt very surreal. It was definitely something that happened to other people. We couldn't believe we were holding a new born and a toddler feeling completely vulnerable and uncertain about our future. I think the worst part of it was waiting for the results. Once we knew, we had to deal with it and concentrate on the next steps – treatment.
We put a lot of our focus and energy on ensuring that our children had a stable and normal environment. We needed to protect them from our fear and pain. During the whole time, we did actually have a normal home life, with laughter and happiness. There were also days when I was scared that I wouldn't survive. It broke my heart to imagine my children growing up without their mum and having to deal with grief at such a young age. But we rationalised and focused on getting better; our children definitely encouraged us to do so. They kept us busy, sane and positive.
I'm really proud of how our family got through this together. Having two children under two and dealing with the side effects of chemo was a struggle, but it was thinking about them that got us through each day. If anyone has to go through what we have I would say to them, ‘you can do this’. We are always petrified of the ‘C’ word but with such advancement in treatment these days, it doesn't have to be the life sentence that we associate with it. You will get through this. There will be tough days mentally, physically and emotionally, but be kind to yourself and keep talking.