Young mum given 12 months to live weeks after getting the all clear for breast cancer
A young mum has been given the devastating news that she has less than 12 months to live – just weeks after being told she had beaten cancer.
Natalie Sanders was first diagnosed with Grade 3 Triple-Negative breast cancer in October last year after finding a large, painful lump in her right breast.
The 29-year-old began eight rounds of chemotherapy but the treatment was abruptly stopped in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Doctors had also discovered she had the BRCA gene which increased her chances of the cancer returning unless she underwent a double mastectomy, which also had to be postponed.
The mum, from Coatbridge, underwent a lumpectomy to check the results of the chemo and she was told that she was 100% cancer free in May.
But just one month later, she began experiencing pain in her breast again and was told that it was likely just a buildup of fluid.
After her pain continued to worsen, Natalie reached out to her consultant who sent her for an ultrasound, mammogram, biopsy and CT scan in September.
Natalie said: “I had been to the breast clinic a few times because I’ve always known how important it is to check your boobs.
“I had a bit of bad advice given to me where I was told that I had generally quite lumpy boobs and it was just the way my tissue builds up.
“I was told that if I had a lump that moved, I shouldn’t be too concerned about it. It was only if I had a hard lump that didn’t move that I should start to worry.
“After I had my little boy, I felt quite a big lump on my right breast. It moved and wiggled about, it didn’t cause me any pain at the beginning.
“It got to the point when my wee boy was starting to crawl and climb up me and he always seemed to catch the lump and I felt like I was being floored everytime.
“I thought I maybe had a cyst that needed draining so went to my doctor who pretty much agreed and sent me for a screening.
“Within about 10 seconds of my ultrasound, the doctor said we needed a mammogram, something’s going on here. That’s when they found out that it was a concern.”
Natalie soon discovered that she should have been tested for the BRCA gene as a teenager but was not told.
The type of cancer she had developed was closely linked to the gene and would need to have both breasts removed to reduce the risk of the disease returning.
Due to the pandemic, the procedure could not go ahead and her chemotherapy was stopped early but appeared to have worked when she was given the all clear in March.
But her world shattered against when the breast pain returned the following month.
Doctors diagnosed her with Grade 4 metastatic breast cancer, which has a six to 12 month life expectancy.
Natalie said: “They said that if they couldn’t get me in for the double mastectomy by November, they’d give me some radiotherapy to keep me going.
“I went back a month later because I was getting some pain around the site where the tumour was but my consultant was stuck in Sweden so I saw another doctor.
“He had a little feel and said that he thought it was maybe just a build up of fluid which was very common and there was nothing to worry about.
“That pain kind of came and went on and off for a good few months. It wasn’t until mid-August that I started getting a shooting pain.
“My breast started to feel different. A week later, I called my consultant because I was starting to get considerable more pain and having to take stronger medication.
“I ended up calling NHS 24 while waiting for my appointment and they thought I may have mastitis so gave me antibiotics.
“But when my consultant had a feel, she said it wasn’t mastitis and they needed to look into further so sent me for an ultrasound.
“That then led to a mammogram, which led to a biopsy which then led to a CT scan all on the same day.
“I was supposed to see my consultant on the Tuesday but I got a phone call from my breast care nurse on the Monday night.
“She asked if I was going by myself, which I was because you’re not really allowed anyone in just now, but she said I should bring my partner with me.
“Right away, I just knew it didn’t look good. When I went in the next morning, I knew straight away and I said ‘it’s back isn’t it’ and my consultant said it was.
“I begged her to tell me that it wasn’t Stage 4 but she burst out crying because I was really close to her and she was completely heartbroken.
“That kind of warms my heart because I just know I’ve been looked after by somebody who really did everything they could.
“My breast care nurse was heartbroken and my partner and I were obviously devastated.
“They said to me that I had six to 12 months but I can’t accept that.
“I’ve got my wee boy. I’ve got to do absolutely everything I can to stay with him. I just can’t not see him grow up.”
Natalie and her partner Idress Mohammad had been researching alternative treatments and had been put in touch with a cannabis oil supplier in Canada.
A fundraiser has been launched to help the young family pay for cannabis oil which they hope will increase the amount of time she has to see her three-year-old boy grow up.
She accepts that while the treatment may not kill the cancer completely, she hopes that it will give her more precious time with her little boy after positive results for other cancer patients.
The oil costs around £1400 a month which the family simply cannot afford on their own, leaving Natalie to question how much her life is worth.
She explained: “It’s a cannabis oil in its purest form. You can source it illegally here but that’s not really something that I’m wanting to do.
“I’ve had a few people who put me in touch with this place in Canada who have bought stuff from there and here before having it all tested by an independent scientist.
“The oil from Canada has the strongest grade of CBD and THC because it’s a pharmaceutical company that’s been working on it.
“They can’t guarantee that it’s going to kill cancer but you take the best grade of oil to give you the best hope.
“I can’t get it on the NHS because I do have a time limit and when I have approached the subject with doctors, it’s not something that has been offered to me.
“It may or may not work or only work for a limited amount of time but I’ll try anything now.”
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