Lisa Gamble, 39, was daydreaming about being a new mum when her world came crashing down.
Here, Lisa tells the story in her own words.
A￼s two little blue lines began to form, my stomach fluttered with excitement. I was going to be a mummy!
My partner David, 45, and I already had one little ’un – our six-month-old girl, Lillie –and I couldn’t wait to welcome baby number two.
But as my pregnancy progressed, it became clear that something was wrong. Very wrong.
My sister-in-law Claire, 30, was expecting at the same time, but our experiences were worlds apart.
While she was glowing, I was exhausted with pain in my back and ribs.
It kept me up all hours and I was in so much agony I couldn’t even pick up Lillie.
Plus, despite only being a few weeks gone, I already had a huge bump.
Then I started bleeding. ‘David, come quick,’ I fretted.
As we raced to the hospital, my heart was in my mouth.
I already loved my baby with everything I had, I couldn’t stand the thought of something happening.
Thankfully, medics quickly scanned me and confirmed me and my baby were okay.
More than okay, in fact.
‘It looks as though you’re expecting twins,’ the doctor told me.‘Oh my God, can you believe it?’ I gasped, gripping David’s hand.
Going from a family of three to five would be tricky, but we’d make it work. ‘The more the merrier!’ I laughed.
As the weeks ticked by, happy daydreams of the two little lives growing inside me played on my mind.
Were they boys or girls? Would they look like one another? What will they be when they grow up?
Then, at my 12-week scan, as the cold ultrasound wand glided across my bump, the sonographer’s brow furrowed.
‘I’m so sorry, but I can only detect one heartbeat,’ she told me. ‘The other may have been a molar pregnancy.’
‘What does that mean?’ I choked out, my voice thick with panic.
‘It’s where abnormal cells develop instead of the foetus,’ she explained gently, adding that, in some cases, the mass can turn cancerous.
As she spoke, tears blurred the room around me. I scarcely wanted to believe it was true, but four days later, a consultant confirmed that I was indeed having a molar pregnancy, and the mass was growing fast and crushing my unborn baby.
‘It’s like our baby has an evil twin,’ I wept to David.
We soon had another heartbreaking blow.
‘I’m so sorry, but we have to terminate the pregnancy,’ a doctor told us. ‘There’s no other way.’
Gripped by despair, I dissolved into sobs.
Deep down, I knew they were right. The mass would only continue to grow until it crushed my healthy baby, if it didn’t kill me first.
Still, that did little to lessen the grief. ‘How have we ended up here? Just a few weeks ago we were so excited – and now this,’ I cried. ‘We’ll get through it together,’ David soothed.
Soon after, I went for surgery to remove both the molar pregnancy and the healthy baby from my womb.
Of course, I felt lucky to be alive and to have avoided a hysterectomy, which would rob me of the chance of having another child.
But my heart ached for the baby I’d lost, especially when I found out he’d been a little boy. My son.
Whenever I closed my eyes, I could see him, cuddling up to David as we brought him home for the first time, taking those wobbly first steps, charging about, playing with Lillie... But it was all just a figment of my imagination.
Then, three weeks later, I began to bleed again, and tests showed my hormone levels had surged.
At hospital, I was given the devastating news that I had cancer.
‘It’s called gestational trophoblastic neoplasia – a type of tumour,’ a specialist told me. ‘We believe it developed from the molar pregnancy.’
Horrifyingly, the cancer had already spread from my womb to my lungs. After everything we’d been through, I couldn’t lose my life too! So, I fought. I fought with whatever it took to get well again – chemotherapy, blood transfusions to raise my iron levels, hospital appointment after hospital appointment.
The side effects were horrendous. At points, my mouth was so sore from chemo injections that I couldn’t even kiss Lillie. But it was all worth it when doctors eventually gave me the all clear. ‘We’re going to be okay,’ I wept.
Since then, I have been working with an amazing charity called Mummy’s Star, which supports women affected by cancer during pregnancies.
They’ve helped me process everything and shown me that I’m not alone.
I’ve also been making up for lost time with Lillie, who had to see her mummy sick for so long. David and I are closer than ever too, and would love to try for another baby – though I still think of the one I lost every single day.
Get involved at http://www.mummysstar.org/
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