A Yorkshire mum said she would have never noticed she had breast cancer if she hadn’t gotten pregnant. Hayley Cragg, 34, was 18 weeks pregnant when she noticed a cancerous lump on her breast.
What should have been a joyful and exciting time for Hayley turned into a battle of survival for her and her unborn child. She underwent three rounds of chemotherapy while pregnant with son Louie, who was then delivered premature to give both him and his mother the best chance.
Thankfully he was born perfectly healthy in February this year and the operation to remove Hayley’s cancer has so far been a success. The mum-of-three, from Bridlington, said: “If I hadn’t of gotten pregnant I wouldn’t have realised I had cancer.
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“The cist was pregnancy related, so when I went to get it checked out, that’s when they found it. The chemotherapy combined with the pregnancy sickness was absolutely horrific – it was the toughest time of my life.”
Hayley was overjoyed when she found out she was pregnant with her third child in May last year. But her joy quickly turned to devastation when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 18 weeks.
Not only was Hayley worried about her own life, she was also terrified for her unborn baby and how the cancer would effect him. She was referred to a breast cancer unit at Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, where she went for multiple biopsies which revealed the extent of the cancer.
Doctors informed her it was worse than they originally thought and at 23 weeks Hayley was forced to have a mastectomy – an operation to remove one of her breasts. After the successful operation, she then underwent three rounds of gruelling chemotherapy whilst battling all the discomforts of a normal pregnancy.
Hayley, who worked as carer full-time before falling ill, said: “When they did the operation they removed the cancer completely – but the chemo was to ensure that it didn’t come back. I had three rounds whilst pregnant and that combined with the morning sickness was just horrific.
“I don’t know if I could have done it without my baby boy who was giving me strength every step of the way.”
Doctors delivered Louie earlier than planned so they could administer Hayley three more rounds of intense chemo, and he was induced at 35 weeks. Thankfully, he was born completely healthy despite the trauma his mother had been put through during her pregnancy.
Hayley then battled through the rest of her treatment which concluded in April. And, after a short burst of radiotherapy next month, she expects to be given the all clear.
Louie is now 16 weeks old and progressing well, and Hayley can now start looking forward to a bright future with all three of her children. Hayley said: “I still feel constantly tired now and have tingling in my hands and feet from the chemo – although this should fade over time.
“I have to undergo some radiotherapy in July but doctors are positive this is just a precaution to make sure they kill any remaining cancer cells in my body. It’s crazy to think if I hadn’t have gotten pregnant I may have never noticed the cancer until it was to late.
“I guess everything happens for a reason. It’s been a difficult journey, but I can’t wait to put this chapter behind me and start enjoying life again.”