HEIDI 33, BRISTOL
How old were you when you were diagnosed with breast cancer?
I was 32 and had been breast-feeding my little boy Tait. I noticed I had a rash, and when it didn’t go away after a few weeks, I had it checked out. After two GP’s misdiagosed me as having mastitis, I saw a third GP who referred me to a breast clinic.
Share with us your story?
I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. The rarest and most aggressive type of breast cancer that affects only 500 women in the UK. I was diagnosed when pregnant with my third baby. Being HER2 positive, I needed the drug Herceptin to help fight my cancer – a drug I couldn’t have in pregnancy. I was offered a termination, which I declined. I loved my baby as much as my two boys, and I couldn’t not give her a chance. I declined Herceptin and agreed to have my baby girl at 30 week’s gestation. I had AC chemo whilst pregnant but it did nothing, and the cancer began to grow. I had to bring my baby’s birth forward by two weeks, where she had over 90% chance of survival. The cancer was spreading so quickly that waiting two more weeks to give birth would have meant I wouldn’t have been here for any of my children.
Baby Ally Louise Smith was born at 28+1 week’s gestation on December 11th, 2015, weighing 2lb, 5oz – beautiful and perfect. She was very healthy and doing so well, but unfortunately caught an infection in hospital and died at just 8 days old. Our world fell apart, but we desperately tried to get control back for our two little boys.
I then discovered the cancer had spread to my lungs. I began treatment for secondary breast cancer. I then had a mastectomy and radiotherapy.
I have since discovered that the cancer has spread further into my skin. I have swapped to a different drug, and am hopeful that this one works. I want to be here to see my boys grow up and will keep attacking this with the strength of a thousand lions.
Who or what has helped you through this difficult period in your life?
My family and friends are beyond incredible. There is someone I can lean on 24/7. I have been writing a blog which has helped me empty my mind a little. Storm in a Tit Cup has won an award from the MAD blog awards for Best Writer. I have also taken part in a documentary to raise awareness and I generally try to laugh as much as possible.
What advice would you give someone just diagnosed that you have learnt along your journey?
Talk to others. No one wants to be in this boat, but it’s good to speak to other people who know what it’s like. It’s also good to talk about your fears. All of them. Hiding from your feelings only gives them more power.