To find out that one has cancer is one of the worst news that one can receive. But for Lisa Fry from Cheltenham, not only did she find out that her cancer had returned, she found out just two weeks before the birth of her fourth child who is a miracle baby, no less.
This is why the 39-year-old personal trainer and mother of four has decided to put a positive spin on her situation by always dressing up for her chemotherapy sessions. Nurses have even dubbed her the “most glamorous patient” because of how she presents herself.
Lisa first had breast cancer in 2011 when she was breastfeeding her third son, Woody. There was a lump in her left breast that was later turned out to be stage three breast cancer.
After a grueling treatment regimen that involved chemotherapy, radiotherapy, a lumpectomy, and a lymph node clearance under her armpit, she went into remission and decided to celebrate a new crack at life by becoming a personal trainer and a Sergeant in Cadet Force.
She explains: “Chemo in 2011 was horrendous as I was so sick and poorly. I lost my hair, had breast surgery on both breasts, radiotherapy and another two years of antibody chemo. I also had six years of taking Tamoxifen medication.”
Along with the return of her good health was the desire to have a fourth child. But they struggled to conceive naturally and in 2014, a specialist told them that chemotherapy had destroyed all of Lisa’s eggs and that she would likely undergo menopause at 35.
Even while the news gutted her, Lisa and her husband Wayne decided to move on and had all but given up on having another child. But in 2017, she started to feel unwell and feared that her cancer had returned. But subsequent tests revealed a shocking yet welcome diagnosis: she was ten weeks pregnant.
She recalls, “I was at a training course for the Cadets which involved crawling through the forest carrying a rifle and sleeping under the stars, and I began feeling unwell.
“I started to worry the cancer was coming back so I had tests done and found out I was 10 weeks pregnant. I thought it was a joke after being told it wasn’t going to happen.”
The next few weeks were wrapped in excitement as her belly blossomed. But the joy turned to fear when Lisa discovered a lump in her breast 35 weeks into the pregnancy.
She hoped against hope that it was only a fatty lump but a scan at 39 weeks confirmed her worst fears: her cancer had returned.
“I rang my breast care team and they arranged to see me. When I saw them at 39 weeks, they told me straight away it was cancer.
“I was in complete shock saying ‘no, I’m having a baby in less than two weeks, this can’t be happening.’
“I cried all the way home as I was worried for my baby. When I got home my husband was waiting for me and we cried, and I thought how could this be happening again? I remember screaming ‘I can’t die.’”
In order to start treatment, labor was induced three days later and the baby, who they named Jagger, was born on March 25, 2018.
But even worse news was to come.
“Two weeks after our baby was born, I had a full body PET scan, and two weeks later I was told the devastating news that the cancer had spread from my breast to my chest lymph nodes and sternum bone. I was classed as incurable with a life-limiting disease.
“When my consultant told me it had spread to my sternum, my world just fell apart. I burst out crying, I couldn’t believe what she was saying. This really couldn’t be happening to me.
“My husband was crying his eyes out, holding our baby. I kept shaking my head saying no this can’t be happening. It was the worst time of my life, it makes me feel sick thinking about it now.
“I couldn’t take it all in, it was a massive shock. How could this be happening to me? I had a two-week-old babysat there and three children at home.
“It felt cruel that I had been given this little miracle and I wasn’t going to be around to see him grow up and that he might not remember me.
“Chemo was hard because I desperately wanted to do stuff with the baby and the boys, but I just felt too poorly.”
It was then that she decided to fight cancer in her own way by dressing up for her chemotherapy sessions.
She says, “If you look good you feel better, and I believe it’s helped me. I get called the most glamorous patient and get so many compliments. It just feels great.
“We must look after our bodies. What we put in it and what we surround ourselves with has a massive impact on our health and state of mind.
“I urge people to drop the processed foods and sugar. Finally, wear your best clothes every day – don’t keep them for special occasions.
“I treat every day as if I was going somewhere really special and I don’t let cancer define me.”
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