Tina was pregnant when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. She shares with us how her children helped her through her treatment, and what it means to have her son's name on the Force India race car.

I burst into tears and said, 'but I'm pregnant!'

I was 14 weeks pregnant when I found a lump on my left breast.

I put it to the back of my mind and later went to a midwife appointment at my local hospital with my best friend, who knew about the lump. I avoided the subject until my friend told me that I had to tell the midwife.

The midwife looked at me and then took me over to the breast clinic. An appointment was made instantly and soon I was having an ultrasound and a biopsy.

Two days later I got a call to come back in for an appointment. I knew it had to be bad news.

My boyfriend came with me to an early morning appointment.  I remember sitting in the waiting room, feeling nervous and sick.

We were seen by two nurses and my consultant. He told me that I had a cyst and that the mass was cancerous.

I burst into tears and said, 'but I'm pregnant!'

I had to break the news to my 13-year-old daughter, Casey. It broke my heart. She was in pieces as I reassured her that I was going to be ok, all the while terrified that I might die.

 

On the first day of chemotherapy, I booked my scan to find out the sex of my baby

I was told I would need chemotherapy.

On the day I was due to start my chemotherapy treatment, I booked my scan to find out the sex of the baby. I needed something to brighten an otherwise terrifying day.

We found out that we were having a beautiful baby boy. It was a dream come true. We'd always wanted to have a son.

My best friend bought a black balloon with blue confetti in it, as we wanted to surprise my daughter with the news. After she popped the balloon and the confetti fell out, Casey cried. She was so happy that she'd be having a baby brother.

It gave me something to look forward to. I was so scared of leaving the children behind. Everything from then on was for my daughter and my future son.

My son Carter was born on 20th June, a week after I finished my chemotherapy. We joked that he had all the hair, and I had none! He was a natural birth, because I was due to have my lumpectomy afterwards and they didn't want me to have two operations so close together. He was a true miracle.

 

I received amazing care, but there were complications

During my treatment I received amazing care. The whole of the breast clinic liaised with my midwives and there was a weekly team meeting to discuss my care. I was kept up to date with everything that was planned for me.

My oncologists also directed me to Breast Cancer Care as a resource to help keep me informed on what I was going through. I found the website incredibly helpful, and eventually joined in discussions on their Facebook page and groups to find support for my treatment.

There was still nervousness and complications along the way. I went to have a PICC line fitted for my chemotherapy, but once we did a scan it was revealed that the baby was taking my blood flow.

I had a port fitted instead. Unfortunately, I couldn't have anesthetic because I was pregnant. I had to have it without any numbing. It was the most painful thing I went through.

When prepping for my lumpectomy after giving birth to Carter, I had an allergic reaction to the blue dye used for checking lymph nodes. I had an anaphylactic shock and had to be put in intensive care.

I'm due to have a reconstruction later this year following my mastectomy last August. The mastectomy was a decision that I found very difficult. I had already lost my hair and my body had changed so much because of treatment and pregnancy – I felt like I was losing my womanhood.

 Although I felt terrible about it, I went ahead with the operation. I had to do it for my children.

 

I can't wait to see my son's name on the Force India car

I used to do a lot of running. When I try to describe my journey, I think of a racetrack. When I was at the beginning of the racetrack, I had loads and loads of hurdles in front of me. But with every hurdle I jumped, I was closer to the finish line.

I'm still on tamoxifen and hormone therapy, and I will be for the next five years. I've still got some side effects. I have chemo brain, my knees hurt, I get out of breath – but I'm here to live another day with my kids.

I can't wait to see my son's name on the Force India car. It's always been a dream to go and watch the Grand Prix, so I thought I would try for the competition when I saw it on Breast Cancer Care's page.

When I won I screamed with happiness. It would mean so much for Carter's name to be on the car. When he's older, and I show him photographs, he'll know what an amazing thing it is to be a part of, and what it represents. Not every little boy can say their name is on a F1 race car.

 

Tina