Support for Sam Kirkby
Sam, 39, learned she had stage three breast cancer in October 2021, when her baby son was just six months old.
She said: “I thought I had lumps and bumps because I was breastfeeding, but the doctor sent me for a scan.
When I went in for the results two weeks later the specialist said: “I expect you know what I am going to tell you?”
I thought she was going to say I was fine. But then she said: “I’m afraid you have cancer.”
“I didn’t know what to say – I was absolutely stunned. I had told my husband to wait in the car with the baby because I thought I would be literally in and out.
“I left the hospital and just went to work – and kept going to work for the next three days until my husband said: “You know you’ve got to stop. You have to start shielding before your treatment.
“And then it really hit me and all I could think about was – I can’t leave my children.”
A year on from her diagnosis, mum-of-three Sam, has undergone five rounds of gruelling chemotherapy, a partial mastectomy and radiotherapy.
The chemo was particularly hard as Sam has Crohns disease, which was exacerbated by the strong chemo drugs.
She said: “One of the worst parts, was having to stop breastfeeding my baby to start chemo. He cried and cried and I felt hopeless and that I was letting him down.
“I was working four part time jobs as a retail merchandiser to support my family before my diagnosis. My husband is a stay at home Dad to our children.
“But eventually the strain was too much and the doctor signed me off sick from my main job.
“We had taken out a mortgage on our first proper home just before my diagnosis.
“I was terrified about how we would cope with me unable to do all my jobs.
“Luckily, Paula, one of the nurses at the Ladybird Unit in Poole told me about the help given by DCCF and helped me to apply.
“When I found out DCCF was going to help us pay our mortgage for a while, the relief was huge and I am so grateful.”
She continued: “I don’t know what would have happened without DCCF’s help. This, together with the amazing treatment and support I have had from the NHS, makes me feel lucky to be here, despite all the terrible things that have happened to us in the course of just one year.”
Sam has learned she has the hereditary BRCA2 gene and must now wait for a full mastectomy and for her ovaries to be removed, before reconstructive surgery, all of which will mean many trips to hospital in Portsmouth.
She said: “I have no choice but to follow the long path ahead of me – with more treatment and surgery.
“But I am determined to survive cancer for my family.”