AT seven weeks pregnant Stephanie Papworth was faced with the most agonising decision of her life.
For Stephanie, 33, was diagnosed with breast cancer – and had to decide whether to take treatment immediately and risk the life of her unborn baby.
But she said her cancer was so aggressive she knew she had to have the treatment to ensure she would survive for her older children, 15-year-old Jacob, and Maisie, nine, and fiancé Richard, 38.
She said: “I knew the lump wasn’t right so I went to my GP and they said it was probably nothing to worry about.”
Stephanie was referred for a scan but decided to pay privately to speed up the process.
Within days she was given a diagnosis of grade three breast cancer – an aggressive, fast growing tumour.
She said: “I just knew it was cancer so I had already come to terms with it by the time I was diagnosed. I just thought, it’s cancer and I’ll deal with it.
“Everybody else around me was heartbroken. The hardest thing was telling the kids but they were really good. The first question was ‘are you going to die?’ but when they realised it was treatable they were fine.”
Within three weeks Stephanie, of Kilroyd Drive, Hunsworth, had surgery to remove the lump and lymph nodes – but she was told she would need chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Bradford Royal Infirmary doctors said there had only been two pregnant women treated with chemotherapy there. After doing some research she discovered another pregnant woman was going through the same treatment as her without complications – so she went ahead.
She said: “It was soul searching. I had my children and my life to think about. It’s not an easy decision to make.”
During her pregnancy Stephanie had four chemotherapy sessions. She said: “The guilt was overwhelming. The day of the chemo there was never any movement and I used to think ‘what have I done?’ but then he would start coming round again.”
She was induced at 34 weeks, but there was more heartache as baby Gabriel stopped breathing and was rushed to intensive care.
Luckily his condition stabilised and Gabriel is now a healthy eight-week-old unaffected by Stephanie’s treatment.
Two weeks after the birth she was back in treatment. She has one more session then four weeks of radiotherapy. She said doctors believed they had caught it early.
She added: “Having Gabriel has kept me going. I have no chance to sit down and think how horrible the illness is.
“We haven’t got time for cancer.”