'My unborn baby saved my life': Nurse, 28, beats cancer after pregnancy complications alerted doctors to 9cm tumour in her cervix

A mother has credited her baby daughter with saving her life after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer while pregnant

Jane
Heffey, 28, received the devastating diagnosis when she was 20 weeks
pregnant with Ciara last February, after having suffered excessive
bleeding.


She said: 'At first I assumed it had something to do with being pregnant before, and that my body was readjusting.

Ms Heffey, a nurse at Aintree Hospital, in Liverpool, said: 'If hadn't pregnant with Ciara, I might have brushed it off.




Lifesaver: Jane Heffey mother has credited her daughter Ciara, now 11 months, with saving her life after she was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant



Lifesaver: Jane Heffey mother has credited her
daughter Ciara, now 11 months, with saving her life after she was
diagnosed with cancer while pregnant


'I was worried that the bleeding meant was something wrong with Ciara. I never imagined it would be me.'


After an initial check-up, Ms Heffey was given an examination at
Liverpool Women's Hospital, where she received the devastating news that
she had a 9cm tumour on her cervix.


As baby Ciara developed in her womb, she was putting pressure on her cervix, causing heavy bleeding.

But
there was more devastating news to come. The cancer had already spread
to Jane's lymph nodes and the medical staff were worried that it had
reached her bladder, too.





She said: 'When the doctor was
delivering the news, it felt like an out-of-body experience. It was
like everything had been perfect. I had my house, my career, my partner
and my family. Then my whole world just crumbled.


'I
couldn't understand why it was happening to me. I went running, I ate
healthily, I didn't smoke. And then this happens, I found that very
hard.'


Ms Heffey, who at
that point already had a nine-month-old daughter, Niamh, with partner
Stephen, 30, added: 'It wasn't just my life hanging in the balance.


'Being pregnant with an eight month old baby, it was the worst news imaginable.'





Jane Heffey


Jane Heffey




Shock diagnosis: Ms Heffey was told she had a
9cm cervical tumour when she was 20 weeks pregnant.  She had to undergo
chemotherapy while pregnant, which led to her shaving her head





Relief: Baby Ciara was born by C-section at 32 weeks. Despite her mother having to have chemotherapy while pregnant, she was perfectly healthy



Relief: Baby Ciara was born by C-section at 32
weeks. Despite her mother having to have chemotherapy while pregnant,
she was perfectly healthy


In order to stop the cancer
from spreading even further, Ms Heffey was told she would need to have
chemotherapy while she was still pregnant with Ciara.


She
said: 'I signed the consent form and I was warned about the side
effects, like how the chemotherapy could affect Ciara's growth and her
hearing.'


She was also
given the option to abort her daughter, which would have allowed her to
start intensive treatment sooner - something she immediately dismissed.


She
said: 'Just one word could have ended Ciara's life, but there's no way
on earth I would have done that. Not when she's the one who had saved my
life.'


Still reeling
from the news, she was introduced to Dr Karen Whitmarsh, a
gynaecologist  who would supervise her treatment at The Clatterbridge
Cancer Centre, Wirral.


Last March, while she was 24 weeks pregnant, she started her first cycle of chemotherapy.

She said: 'The potential effect of the treatment on Ciara was terrifying, but this was my only option. It had to work.'





Gruelling: Three weeks after Ciara was born, Jane had to start intensive chemotherapy again



Gruelling: Three weeks after Ciara was born, Jane had to start intensive chemotherapy again






Clear: Her tumours have now disappeared completely, thanks to radiotherapy and chemotherapy



Clear: Her tumours have now disappeared completely, thanks to radiotherapy and chemotherapy


That same month Jane returned to hospital for the results of an MRI scan.

Incredibly, the tumour had shrunk from 9cm to 5cm, while the cancer on her lymph nodes had been reduced by half.

The
remainder of her treatment was put on hold until Ciara was born, as a
second round of chemotherapy could potentially harm her.


At 32 weeks baby Ciara was delivered by caesarean on April 12, 2012 at Liverpool's Women Hospital.

'When I woke up Stephen told me Ciara was fine. It was the best news in the world.'

'When I saw her for the first time she was curled up in an incubator. I just burst out crying. She was beautiful.'

Three weeks after Ciara was born, Ms Heffey had to start intensive chemotherapy.

Although she had been warned about hair loss, she was alarmed when Niamh pulled out a huge clump.




Fundraising: She is now planning to do a skydive to raise money for the cancer centre that treated her



Fundraising: She is now planning to do a skydive to raise money for the cancer centre that treated her


Ms Heffey said: 'That really
frightened me, and I realised I needed to take control. I called Stephen
and he grabbed the clippers and that was it. We shaved my head and I
toasted my new look with a glass of champagne.'


After weeks of gruelling chemotherapy, her next scan came in July, where she discovered the tumour had disappeared completely.

But
she still needed 25 external sessions of radiotherapy across her
pelvis, as well as more chemotherapy to blast the cancerous cells still
left in her body.


She said: 'I was whacked but Stephen made me laugh every day, and he was always there for me.

'Seeing my daughters' smiles made the fight worthwhile.


Priorities: She said: 'I used to be career orientated, but being a mum is my priority now'



Priorities: She said: 'I used to be career orientated, but being a mum is my priority now'


'At times I felt vulnerable and ugly,
but the nurses in the radiation unit were great. It's not always been
easy, and there are times when Ciara, now 11 months old, and Niamh, now
22 months old, are at the dinner table and there are peas flying
everywhere and both of them are crying.


'At
times like that, me and Stephen just look at each other and we burst
out laughing. After the year we've been through, we're not about to
moan.'


This month Ms
Heffey will be falling 10,000ft when she performs a sponsored charity
skydive for The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre with Stephen.


She
said: "Any other time and I would be having a heart attack at the
thought of doing that. But now I feel like I can do anything.


'I'm taking HRT to replace the hormones that would have been produced by my ovaries, which were destroyed by the treatment.

'It's
only now that it hits me how bad it could have been. When I see a
funeral car I have a little panic. That could have been my future.


'I
used to be career orientated. Being a mum is my priority now. Being
with my kids and cherishing every moment is so important.'


To
donate visit www.justgiving.com/Stephen-Jane and more information about
the work at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre is available at
www.clatterbridgecc.org.uk.





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