By Sammantha James
(Lettings Negotiator & Valuer, Mumbles Office)
Hi all, for those of you who know me well will already know the details of what I am about to share with you all. After careful consideration I thought that sharing my story online may help others who might go through the same situation as me.
On the 4th April I found out that Luke, my husband, and I were expecting our first baby! We were so excited that our Christmas present was going to be a newborn and we told our family and friends straight away, never one to keep a secret! However, it wasn’t all good news because a week earlier I had found a small lump in my breast and had been referred to the hospital as an ‘urgent case’ by my local GP. Luckily Luke and my mum had made me go to the doctors straight away, even though I was pretty convinced this was a hormonal lump which was down to my pregnancy.
After two weeks of waiting, I still didn’t have an appointment letter for the chest ultrasound, so I called the hospital. The receptionist told me that due to being under 30 years of age I had been downgraded to ‘non-urgent’ and the wait would be up 8 weeks or more. I was so confused about how they could do that!
Another 7 weeks later I finally had an appointment scheduled at the hospital, at this point, I was 9 weeks pregnant and still confident that it was a pregnancy related lump. However, the ultrasound showed that the lump was “suspicious” and I had an immediate biopsy. The next week felt like a year-long, the waiting was excruciating. A week later I found myself sitting in a small room with my husband and the doctor explained that I had BREAST CANCER, to be exact, ‘Invasive Ductal Carcinoma’!
I was sent for a mammogram straight away to check whether the cancer was in both breasts or just one. The doctor said that moving forward there would be a lot to consider and the main thing being whether we could proceed with the pregnancy in order for me to have the treatment I needed.
Trying to stay positive in a crappy situation, I was so happy to have a call from my amazing breast care nurse Heather whom I’d met for the first time that day. She called to tell me the results of the mammogram: the cancer hadn’t spread, it was only one lump which hadn’t changed in size since my previous ultrasound (any news was good news at that point and I was super grateful for the call as I wasn’t expecting to have the results until a week later).
My next appointment was at the outpatient clinic where the treatment plan was explained. The surgeon was great, I brought both my mum & Luke’s mum along just to reassure them and so that they could ask any questions. The consultant was confident that having a lumpectomy at this point was the best option. Radiotherapy would also definitely be on the cards after surgery but I was reassured that they would take every precaution and adapt my surgery and treatment to what was best for me and our baby. My breast care nurse has been amazing throughout the whole process answering all of my silly questions and calling me regularly to check everything is ok.
My 3-month baby scan was surreal and I got to see the baby move so finally knew that everything so far was okay and the baby was healthy! BEST DAY EVER !!
Getting off a plane at 4.30am after a lovely relaxing holiday with friends in Cyprus, I headed straight to the hospital as that was the day I had surgery to remove the cancerous cells! I had an incision at the top of one breast and one under my armpit, where they removed the lymph nodes and then I was on bedrest for 2 weeks (it was perfectly timed for me to indulge on Love Island and have Luke wait on me hand and foot). The amazing nurses made me so at ease and I knew they were not only looking after me but my baby as well. They organised for a midwife to come up from the Antenatal Unit to check that the baby was okay, as it was literally the only worry I had through the whole thing. This also meant I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat ️ for the first time and it was such a special moment that I will never forget.
At 6 months through the pregnancy, I started chemotherapy, which is pretty rotten, but I have a little life inside me, so I have to be strong and positive.
On the 12th September after my 2nd chemo session, my hair started to fall out rapidly. It was time to brave the shave! So it all came off, it felt so weird and took some getting used to but it was good to take things into my own hands, especially when so much is out of my control at the moment. My husband has been amazing and also shaved his head and messed up his eyebrows. I can’t thank him enough for always keeping my spirits high and making me laugh through the hardest times.
On 1st November I finished work and went onto maternity leave. Luke is self-employed so he is going to take some time off once the baby is born and help me with our baby daughter (yes I found out it’s a girl!!). We wish to embrace normal family life even though I will be continuing with my chemotherapy and going onto radiotherapy too.
I want everyone to know how important it is to check yourself for lumps or anything abnormal and just get anything suspicious checked by your doctor, no matter how small it is or how you can convince yourself it’s nothing serious! This link can show you what to look out for and how to check properly I found mine whilst checking in the shower!
Baby pics to follow in December!
Matthew Whitehead from our Llanelli office is running in the Llanelli half marathon next February for Sammantha & Luke. He wishes for them to be able to embrace family life and not have to worry about anything other than themselves for a few months. So he is hoping to gather a little fund to ease any financial stress allowing them to focus on parenthood and recovery. The target is £500 through this crowdfunding page if you are able to donate it is much appreciated.