Mum-of-three, 26, given incurable cancer diagnosis days after giving birth to twins
A mum received the heartbreaking news she has incurable cancer just days after giving birth to premature twins.
Lorna Whiston, 26, was forced to deliver her babies early in November to have scans and get treatment for Stage 4 breast cancer.
Now she does not know how much time she has left with them, reports the Manchester Evening News.
Lorna is undergoing treatment for the cancer at the same time as looking after newborn twins, Reuben and Arya, and her first son, Mason, who is three.
The mum, from Cheshire, now wants to use her story to urge younger women to check their breasts, as the disease can develop at any age.
It’s the second time Lorna has been diagnosed with cancer, the first being in February 2019.
“I was playing with Mason, who was only one at the time, and he hit my boob and I thought it seemed a bit sore,” she said.
“I felt it and found a lump, but I thought it was just hormonal because I was only 24 at the time and on my period.
“I had a biopsy and then on February 4, ironically World Cancer Day, I received my diagnosis of breast cancer.”
The young mum’s treatment was vigorous; she had a double mastectomy with reconstruction the following month, froze her eggs and six months of chemotherapy.
After finishing her final round, Lorna rang the bell at Christie Hospital in Withington to signify the completion of her treatment on August 9.
When she turned around, she saw that her fiancée Jonny Parkes, 30, was down on one knee, ready to propose.
By January 2020, Lorna had been given the all-clear after a follow-up MRI which showed no evidence of cancer.
However at the beginning of May, she says she had a ‘funny feeling’ and decided to take a pregnancy test, which came back positive.
A scan three weeks later revealed she was having twins.
She said: “You aren’t supposed to try and get pregnant in the first couple of years after chemo, and it was an accident, but a good accident!
“Chemo can make you infertile and that’s why I froze my eggs, and after you get told that you are probably going to be infertile it’s all you can think about.
“But we fell pregnant naturally, and twins were even more of a shock – I released two eggs but there aren’t any other twins on my side of the family.
“I was so excited and overjoyed, and both mE and Jonny felt blessed, like it was meant to happen.”
Her pregnancy continued normally until after five months Lorna started getting breathless easily, even after just going up the stairs she would want to sit down.
She said: “I thought it was just down to it being twins at first, but then in November I developed a little cough.
“The cough quickly got worse and after three days I struggled to get to the end of a sentence when reading a book for my son.”
Jonny rang 111, and Lorna was worried it could be Covid, so they went into A&E on November 14 where an X-ray was taken of Lorna’s chest.
She said: “They thought my aorta could be enlarged, which is dangerous for the babies, so they did a CT scan to rule it out and that was when they saw there was a mass just above my collarbone.
“Even though they couldn’t confirm anything, I immediately thought the worst and was a bit upset.
“It’s hard to hear it a second time once you’ve been through it all once.”
After a couple of days in hospital and a biopsy, Lorna decided to have the babies early in case she needed to go ahead with cancer treatment.
She said: “They didn’t confirm it was cancer but they had a pretty good idea, and wanted to do a full body CT scan to check for any more masses so had to get the twins out.
“It was all a bit of a blur- we were rushing around to get things ready for the twins, but the decision to give birth early was a quick one because we’d been thinking about it ever since they found the lump.”
Just one week after her biopsy, Lorna gave birth to her twins on Monday 23 November by emergency C-section.
Reuben and Arya were premature, born 34 weeks and 5 days along, at 5lb 1oz and 4lb 8oz respectively and were taken to the neonatal ward for care.
She said: “I was so relieved because they said they might not come out crying as they were so young, but they did, which was the best thing.”
Lorna had her full-body CT scan the day after giving birth and, just four days later, was told her breast cancer had returned but this time it was at Stage 4 and terminal.
She said: “It’s hard, I have days where it’s all I can think about; whether Mason and the twins will even remember me because they’re so young.
“I worry the affect it will have on Mason because he’s not old enough to understand, he just thinks mummy’s poorly.”
Lorna, from Crewe, is four weeks into her treatment with chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and friend have launched a fundraising campaign to help her complete her bucket list.
So far almost £20,000 has been raised to help the young family buy a house, go on holiday – and for Lorna and Jonny to finally get married.
She said: “I want to marry Jonny, which we originally cancelled in order to have the twins but now we’re bringing it forward and will have a proper party once the restrictions have eased!
“We really want to put a deposit down on a house to make some memories in and also offer a bit of security for Jonny and the kids, but I also want to go round the world feeding giraffes!”
Friends are also planning on walking 23 miles from Crewe to Chester in order to raise awareness.
Organiser and Lorna’s best mate Danielle Wilson: “Me and my friends are not athletic in any way shape or form so we thought what would take us out of our comfort zone more than an eight hour walk!”
Lorna can’t believe how big it has all become and is “overwhelmed” by the generosity of others.
She wants to use her story to ensure ladies are checking their breasts for lumps, especially younger women, as she was only 25 when she received her first diagnosis.
She said: “You don’t ever think it would happen to someone in this age group, but you never really know.”