As many of us know, the joy and rewards that come with becoming a Mother are indescribable. 

For Emmeline from Leeds, the happiness of meeting her first baby was interrupted with a shocking and unpredicted breast cancer diagnosis. The news came just two weeks before her daughter, Zosia, was born.

Now, ahead of her first Mother’s Day, she shares her experience of breast cancer as a new mum and why Breast Cancer Haven was so important in making sure she was able to take care of herself and her family during a very difficult time.

When she was 33 weeks pregnant, Emmeline was diagnosed with breast cancer 

“When I was 33 weeks pregnant, I noticed a swelling in my armpit and asked the midwife about it. With my family history of breast cancer, the doctors took no precautions. After some investigating they confirmed it unfortunately was cancer”.

The news that she had breast cancer naturally came as quite a shock to Emmeline and her family. Yet, despite having an uncertain time ahead of her, Emmeline was sure of one thing: she was going to keep calm, focused and have a successful childbirth.

“It was hard to hear that I had breast cancer, but I was adamant that I would stay focussed on Zosia. I wanted the birth to go well and to have a happy, healthy baby. I also refused to begin treatment until Zosia was born”.

After some deliberation, Emmeline and her doctor decided that inducing childbirth a few weeks early would give her a head start with breast cancer treatment. However, before she could begin the process, Emmeline received another shock.

“I think she knew”, exclaims Emmeline. “Zosia was born naturally, 5 weeks early. She must have known it was time to come out so that her Mummy could start getting better. The birth was a complete success”.

The "whirlwind" of motherhood

The first few weeks of being a mother was certainly a busy period for Emmeline, which she describes as being a “whirlwind”.

“It was a scary time, but I just got on with things. There wasn’t anything else I could do”.

With her family rallying behind her and forming a terrific support network, Emmeline was able to begin breast cancer treatment and motherhood simultaneously.

“It feels like it was both a good and bad experience for breast cancer and motherhood to happen at the same time. Breast cancer is an awful thing to experience, chemotherapy being a particularly uncomfortable and demanding period. But in a way, I was so wrapped up in being a mum, I hadn’t the time to worry about myself. Zosia gave me a reason to get up every day. Her beautiful smiley face just lights me up”.

Emmeline had been gifted with a wonderful support network and motherhood had fuelled her unique strength and positivity. However, there was no denying that this was an extremely taxing time for Emmeline. She needed and deserved a relief, something that she soon discovered only 10 minutes away from her home.

Finding relief at Breast Cancer Haven

Not long after her diagnosis, a friend told Emmeline about Breast Cancer Haven.

“My head was a bit of a mess when chemotherapy began so I was delighted and relieved to discover a place that was so perfectly tailored to my needs. To make things even better, it was sitting right on my doorstep in Leeds City centre”.

Throughout chemotherapy, Emmeline looked forward to her regular visits to Breast Cancer Haven where she received free breast cancer support, including nutritional therapy and shiatsu.

“Breast Cancer Haven was somewhere I could go and just completely relax. Even if I popped in to have a cup of tea and a chat with somebody, it was so useful being surrounded by people that knew about what I was experiencing. Some days, my mum came along to the centre with me and Zosia whilst I was doing my therapies. She got to know everybody at the centre too. Despite what I was going through, it was always such a happy occasion when I visited Breast Cancer Haven”.

Although an incredibly strong person by nature, Emmeline credits Breast Cancer Haven as assisting her in keeping her positive approach during breast cancer.

Looking forward and celebrating our first Mother's Day

Now that Emmeline is putting breast cancer behind her, she has started to see just how enormous the experience was.

“I’ve taken a step back and realised the scale of what has happened. I’ve always been strong, but motherhood and breast cancer together was a colossal undertaking. My friends have been in awe of how positive I’ve been, especially since attending Breast Cancer Haven. I’m very grateful for everything they’ve done for me”.

Emmeline is looking forward to spending Mother’s Day with her family this year, which will also be her and Zosia’s first Mother’s Day together.

“I’m so glad to be here with Zosia this Mother’s Day. She’s 8 months old now and it’s our first Mother’s Day together. My Mum is going to join us too. We’re just going to have a quiet evening in together with the family, but three generations of us all spending the day together means so much to me”.

What Breast Cancer Haven offers

Breast Cancer Haven is a national charity that supports women through their breast cancer treatment with emotional, physical and practical support. For more information, find out more about us.

You can help us be there for more mums like Emmeline by making a donation today.