Woman discovered she had cancer while pregnant; battled for survival by undergoing a mastectomy to remove left breast still considers herself lucky after she delivers safely

Claire Pickerill

After three rounds of chemo failed to shrink Claire’s tumour she had a mastectomy to remove her left breast and all her lymph nodes at 22 weeks’ pregnant.
Then in the September, baby George was born by caesarian, weighing 4lb 7oz.
“It was such a relief,” said Claire. “He was a lovely, healthy little thing.”
Claire's  pregnancy ­became a battle for ­survival when she found out she had breast cancer .
Claire Pickerill had been overjoyed at the shock news she was pregnant for a second time after needing fertility treatment for her first son Reggie.
But after finding a cyst in her breast she was forced to undergo chemotherapy and then a
­mastectomy while carrying her unborn child.
“I cradled the growing life inside of me, touching my belly, as chemotherapy blasted the tumour,” she told the Sunday People .
“My husband Stephen was sick with worry, but my only concern was for my unborn child.”
Claire, 39, had suffered cysts in her breasts before and thought she had another when she found a lump in January 2015.
Claire Pickerill
But she decided to play it safe and get a GP to take a look – and was then referred to a consultant who broke the news she had a tumour. She would need a course of chemo when her first trimester of pregnancy ended at 12 weeks.
“My immediate concerns were for my little one,” said Claire.
“Would chemotherapy hurt him or her? Would they be born healthy? What would happen to us as a family if the treatment wasn’t successful? ”
Claire’s oncologist at City Hospital in Birmingham told her the chemo was unlikely to hurt her child but gave no ­guarantees.
The treatment began and an obstetrician scanned her baby regularly to see how the brain and kidneys were developing.
The treatment took a huge toll on Claire. She and husband Stephen, 37, who met working at Birmingham University, had only been married five months when she discovered the lump.
“Stephen went from husband to carer,” said Claire. “I was in such a state I couldn’t get off the sofa. He had to wash me, dress me and do just about everything with Reggie, who was only 18 months at the time.”
Thank God all's well that ends well.