Sharon Grant, an Administrator from Shepherd's Bush, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year at 14-weeks pregnant. ‘I found the lump one morning in bed and my husband Sam and I went to the doctor,’ she told The Running Bug.
‘I was referred to the breast clinic in Charing Cross where I had a Biopsy and a scan, I couldn't have a mammogram because I was pregnant.’
Waiting for her results was particularly challenging. ‘I felt like my whole world had stopped, waiting to know if my lump was cancer,’ says 41-year-old Sharon.
‘When we were told it was cancer, we stopped telling people I was pregnant in case we had to terminate the pregnancy. We were both worried about me as we were told it was stage 3.’
Coping with cancer
Receiving a cancer diagnosis during pregnancy was a huge challenge. ‘The cancer took away from the pregnancy and the pregnancy took away from the cancer,’ explains Sharon.
‘Because I had so many hospital visits, my pregnancy felt really short. I didn't have any specific pregnancy symptoms, the chemo gave me symptoms such as nausea and tiredness but I don't know if these were because I was pregnant or if these were symptoms I would have had anyway.’
Sharon had surgery on the 15th of March last year to remove the lump, before starting chemotherapy a month later.
‘I carried on chemo as planned until the 27th of July where I had my last chemo before the planned birth of my son on the 10th of August. But he decided not to wait until the 10th and came on the afternoon of the 27th of July, so I had chemotherapy in the morning and a baby in the afternoon.’
She was reassured that the chemo would not affect the baby and that he would be born with a full head of hair. ‘I was told that radiotherapy would have to wait until after birth as this would harm the baby. I carried on with chemo two weeks after the birth as planned and then went on to have radiotherapy.’
Thankfully mother and baby are both doing well. ‘I still have symptoms from the chemo that was pumped through my veins, such as numb toes and collapsed veins in my arm,’ says Sharon.
‘My hair is growing back and I look forward to putting it into a ponytail. Thomas however is amazing. He was born with more hair than me and is growing really well despite being two weeks early and only 5 pound 10 oz. He is 9 months now and really loves his food.’
Race for Life
Race for Life have been a huge support for Sharon. ‘I have entered the Race for Life many times and support the charity every year. I did not have the energy to do the race in 2016,’ she explains.
‘If I'd have only been pregnant I probably would have done it and If I'd only had cancer I would have found the energy and asked some friends to help me do it. This year I am entering to prove to everyone that I'm a survivor.
‘Everyone knows someone who has had cancer, or is having treatment and this is a positive way for women to hold their heads up and say they've helped raise money towards cancer research. If it wasn't for the money raised by events like Race for Life, I might not be here today.’
‘I don’t run, I don't have very good knees,’ admits Sharon. ‘However, I am doing the Race for Life this year with my sister, Kay and my 8-year-old stepdaughter Lucy. She will want to run to the finish line, so I guess I'll be running too!’
For anyone going through a similar situation, Sharon offers the following advice: ‘The not knowing is the hardest part. Take someone with you to all your appointments. Tell your friends and family what you know so that they know what's going on and can help. Realise that you don't need to smile through it all; it’s OK to cry.
'My husband said something nice to me every day so I would feel better. My friends sent me flowers to the house, but my best gift is having a wonderful son to remind me of how lucky I am.’
Sharon is supporting Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life in partnership with Tesco. Run, walk or jog in one of over 300 nationwide events this summer. 5K or marathon, every pound raised, from £10 to £100, will help beat cancer. Sign up right now at raceforlife.org