A mum was given the heartbreaking news that she has incurable breast cancer just days after she gave birth to twins.
Lorna Whiston, 26, from Crewe, Cheshire, was forced to make the decision to give birth prematurely so she could have scans and receive treatment for breast cancer.
But just five days after safely welcoming twins Reuben and Arya, she was told the cancer was incurable and there was nothing more doctors could do for her.
The mum-of-three is now undergoing treatment whilst looking after her now five-week-old babies, as well as her first son Mason, three, but does not know how much more time she will have with them.
This is Whiston’s second battle with breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy and six-months of chemotherapy treatment in 2019.
But after suffering from shortness of breath five months into her twin pregnancy, a scan revealed the cancer had returned near her collarbone and was pressing on her throat.
Now the mum wants to use her story to urge younger women to check their breasts, as the disease can develop at any age.
Prior to her first cancer diagnosis in February 2019, Whiston said she had a normal family life and worked in customer service.
“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 explains.
“I felt it and found a lump, but I thought it was just hormonal because I was only 25 at the time and on my period.”
But when the lump didn’t go away, Whiston decided to get it checked out in January 2019.
“I had a biopsy and then on 4 February, ironically World Cancer Day, I was given a breast cancer diagnosis,” she said.
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Following vigorous treatment including a double mastectomy with reconstruction and six months of chemotherapy, Whiston rang the bell at Christie Hospital in Manchester to signify the completion of her treatment on 9 August.
When she turned around, she saw that her partner Jonny Parkes, 30, was down on one knee.
“It was so overwhelming, I just couldn't stop crying,” she recalls. “He had to say ‘So, is that a yes then?’”
In January of this year, Whiston had a follow-up MRI which showed no evidence of cancer.
Then at the beginning of May, after having a “funny feeling” she decided to take a pregnancy test.
With no expectations or symptoms, she discovered she was four weeks pregnant, and at a scan three weeks later, was told she was expecting twins.
“You aren't supposed to try and get pregnant in the first couple of years after chemo, so it was an accident, but a good accident,” she says.
Despite Whiston freezing her eggs after learning chemotherapy can cause infertility, the couple had fallen pregnant naturally.
“Twins were even more of a shock, particularly as there aren’t any other twins on my side of the family,” she says.
Both Whiston and her fiancé were overjoyed at the news, believing it was “meant to happen”.
Her pregnancy continued normally until five months, when Whiston started getting breathless more easily, with even a trip upstairs causing her to have to sit down and catch her breath.
At first she put it down to being pregnant with twins, but in November she developed a 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,” she explains.
Worried it could be COVID-19, the couple went into A&E on 14 November, where an X-ray was taken of Whiston’s chest.
“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 a mass just above my collarbone,” she says.
“Even though they couldn’t confirm anything, I immediately thought the worst.
“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.
“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,” she explains.
Just one week after her biopsy, Whiston gave birth on Monday 23 November by emergency C-section.
Reuben and Arya were premature, born 34 weeks and 5 days into the pregnancy, weighing 5lb 1oz and 4lb 8oz respectively, and were taken to the neonatal ward.
Whiston 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.
Speaking about her devastating diagnosis she says: “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 effect it will have on Mason because he’s not old enough to understand, he just thinks mummy’s poorly.”
Whiston is now four weeks into her treatment with chemotherapy and immunotherapy, but won’t let anything get in the way of her bucket list.
“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,” she says.
“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!”
Whiston’s friends and family have started a GoFundMe for Whiston, that has currently raised nearly £20,000 to help buy the family a house, visit Centre Parcs and complete more items from her bucket list.
They are also planning on walking 23 miles from Crewe to Chester in order to raise awareness of breast cancer.
Whiston hopes her story will help ensure women check their breasts for lumps, especially younger women, as she was only 25 when she received her first diagnosis.
“You don't ever think it would happen to someone in this age group, but you never really know,” she adds.
Additional reporting SWNS.