For those who don't already know me, my name is Katy. I'm 36 and mum to my amazing 4 year old daughter Aurelia and beautiful 6 week old baby boy, Evan. I have been married to my wonderful husband Paul for 6 years.
Up until April 2017 we were an ordinary happy young family. I was pregnant with Evan and we were all so excited about the new addition to our family, not least Aurelia who couldn't wait to be a big sister!
However, our happy family life was about to change beyond all recognition. By chance I found a lump in my left breast and, thinking it was probably nothing to worry about and down to pregnancy, I went to see my GP who referred me to my local breast clinic. Mammograms and ultrasound scans showed thickened breast tissue and an enlarged lymph node in my armpit. Biopsies confirmed breast cancer. I felt like the rug had been pulled from underneath me but there was an extra kicker - my breast cancer was classed as triple negative. This type of breast cancer only occurs in around 15% of women diagnosed, usually affects younger women and is aggressive. It is not driven by oestrogen, progesterone or HER2 which means I cannot benefit from targeted medications after active treatment which reduce the risk of a recurrance, such as tamoxifen and herceptin. There are currently no wonder drugs available for triple negative breast cancer. Some types of triple negative respond to chemotherapy and others don't, but doctors don't yet know enough about triple negative to know which do and which don't at the moment or even which type of chemo has the best chance of success. Also where surgery is necessary before chemo, as in my case, there is no way of telling what effect the chemotherapy has had. The usual treatment for triple negative is surgery, chemo and radiotherapy or slash, poison and burn as it is sometimes referred to!
An immediate mastectomy and lymph node clearance were scheduled. I underwent this surgery at 35 weeks pregnant and needless to say it was terrifying. I was scared not only for me but for little Evan, still growing inside me. We both thankfully came out of the surgery ok but the pathology results told us just how aggressive my cancer was; there was not one but 2 large tumours and the cancer had spread to 4 of my lymph nodes meaning it was trying to get out and spread around my body into vital organs such as the lungs, liver and brain. As far as we know from scans this has thankfully not yet happened. Once this happens there is no cure.
I was induced with Evan at 38 weeks so my chemo could start and thankfully our beautiful bouncing baby boy was a healthy 8 pounds, 4 ounces! He and Aurelia were our rays of sunshine in the darkness and trauma of the past few weeks. I started chemo when Evan was a week old and am currently 6 weeks in to a 6 month chemotherapy regime, to be followed by possible further surgery and weeks of radiotherapy. This is the standard and traditional treatment approach and if I knew it would cure me I would take whatever the medical profession could throw at me a million times over. The problem is it may not, and the statistics aren't great. Triple negative breast cancer recurs often in the months or years after active treatment, often in the vital organs of the body. I therefore need to do all I can to prevent this for the sake of my precious children. I intend to continue with chemotherapy but after lots of research we have found that there are other cutting edge and innovative treatments available for triple negative such as genetic profiling of the tumour, immunotherapy ( a process where my own immune cells are programmed to kill cancer cells) and many other treatments not available in the UK. These treatments are available in Germany and have had amazing results in triple negative patients (specifically I am looking to be treated by the private oncology specialists at the Hallwang Clinic, http://www.hallwang-clinic.com/ ). This will be extremely costly and I have been advised that an initial treatment plan may cost £50,000 plus. We simply do not have this money. Unfortunately a loan or remortgage are not possible (without the boring details, the bank computer says no on a number of counts). Paul and I are very private people by nature who don't ask for help, let alone money, but now we really need the help of our wonderful family, friends and generous strangers with fundraising. Is there anything you can do to help? Can you donate? Anything is very much appreciated, however small. Would your employer donate in return for some publicity or donate prizes? Could you do something sponsored or hold a coffee morning or anything else you can think of? The bigger, the better!
My cancer diagnosis has taught me that nothing but our health and precious family and friends matter. I have to give this my best shot for my babies. And ladies, check your boobs. You are not too young for breast cancer.
Please can I ask all our family and friends to like and share on Facebook and Twitter to spread the word as far as possible.
Thanking you all from the bottom of our hearts.
With lots of love,
Katy, Paul, Aurelia and Evan xxxxxx