A mum who was diagnosed with breast cancer in February when she was 14 weeks pregnant is looking forward to celebrating her son’s first Christmas.
Sharon Grant will spend the festive season with her husband Sam, step daughter Lucy and baby son Thomas at their home in Shepherd’s Bush after juggling pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood, all while undergoing treatment.
Looking back on her personal experiences during 2016, the 41-year-old said: “The last twelve months have been incredibly difficult, but I’m now focusing on the future and looking forward to what the New Year holds.
“It has been a really moving experience to look back over the past year and see just how far I’ve come.”
She is also backing Cancer Research UK’s Right Now campaign, which launches on Boxing Day, and preparing to take part in cancer-related medical trials.
She said: “If taking part in the trial helps other people in the future then I think that is really important.”
She was not alarmed when she discovered the lump, saying: “I didn’t think it was cancer because I’d had a cyst in my throat before.
"I also knew you could get lumps in your breast when you were pregnant but normally this didn’t happen until the second trimester.”
As it was a Saturday she went to see an emergency GP and was referred to a breast clinic.
But still the thought of cancer did not cross her mind.
“It was only after my surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital had told me what the next steps would be when the biopsy results came through that I realised he hadn’t at any point said it wasn’t cancer," she said.
“That’s when I realised there was a chance it was.
"I had a sleepless four nights before we got the results.
“We weren’t given a choice to wait for treatment until after the baby was born and even if we had been, I wouldn’t have taken it.
"What was the point in having a baby if his mum wasn’t going to be there?
“The doctors explained that apart from not having radiotherapy until after the birth the treatment – a lumpectomy and chemotherapy – would be exactly the same as it would have been if I hadn’t been pregnant.
“They reassured me that the only risk would be from having an anaesthetic but that would be minimal.
“I talked about it with my husband Sam and we agreed that if any difficult decisions had to be made my life would take priority.”
She had the lumpectomy in March and soon began her course of chemotherapy.
On the evening of her ninth session, Sharon went into labour four weeks early.
As the baby was breeched, she had an emergency caesarean, and Thomas was born on July 27, weighing 5lb 10oz.
He is now a strong, fit and healthy boy.
A fortnight later Sharon began her chemo again, but switched to radiotherapy.
She believes her illness and pregnancy stopped her from worrying too much about one or the other.
“In a way being pregnant gave me something to focus on other than thinking about the chemotherapy and in the same way having chemo was a distraction from worry about my pregnancy," she said.
“I think I deal with things by being incredibly organized, having a diary and writing everything down.
"I found it really difficult when things were beyond my control, for example waiting for my surgery date and a date for my chemo to start and when Thomas came early it threw my routine out of kilter and I struggled.”
Sharon finished her radiotherapy on October 17 and is now concentrating on enjoying her family Christmas, which will include visits from her parents who live in Anglesey, where she grew up.
“This is the first Christmas that I will host as previously we have gone back to Wales,” she said.
“My mum will be on grandma duties and I will be mum for the first time so I’m really looking forward to that.”
In the new year the former nanny will start and new job, and the family will enjoy a holiday in February.
She has volunteered to take part in five-year "add-aspirin" trial, investigating how the drug might be used to prevent certain types of cancer from returning.
Sharon is also backing the Cancer Research UK campaign, which aims to show the reality of cancer for patients, their friends and family.
She added: “My experience means I understand all too clearly why Cancer Research UK’s work is so important.
“That’s why I’m backing the Right Now campaign and I’m urging people across London to get involved in whatever way they can, to help fund Cancer Research UK’s crucial work.”
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