Bristol mother-of-three receives a Christmas miracle
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A mother diagnosed with terminal cancer has been given a Christmas miracle after being told she is now free of the disease after taking a revolutionary cancer drug.
Heidi Loughlin, 35, said the world is her oyster after Kadcyla – considered the biggest breakthrough for sufferers in the last decade – helped her defy her death sentence.
Doctors warned she had just four years left to live last September, when her rare and aggressive inflammatory breast cancer worsened.
Ms Loughlin, from Bristol, described her ordeal as being like ‘swimming in the wake of a ship wreck’ and ‘fighting an impossible battle’.
But this week, in an incredible turn of events, Ms Loughlin’s latest scan has shown her body to be currently free of the disease – believed to be because of Kadcyla.
The drug was approved by Nice, the NHS’ drug rationing watchdog, earlier this year for thousands of women who suffer from a rare, aggressive breast cancer.
Heidi Loughlin, 35, said the world is her oyster after a revolutionary breast cancer drug helped her defy her death sentence (pictured with her sons Noah, 4, and Tait, 3)
Ms Loughlin first noticed something was wrong when she was breastfeeding youngest son Tait (pictured together) in February 2015, and noticed a rash
Ms Loughlin, who has also undergone chemotherapy to rid her of her disease, has said she is ‘so grateful’ for the precious time she has been given back to spend with her sons and her partner Keith.
She said: ‘Knowing what it feels like to say goodbye, the thought of having to go through that again is absolutely unbearable.
‘I can dare to dream that I’ll be here for a really long time. I’m only 35, I feel great. The world’s my oyster now.’
On her blog, called Storm in a Tit Cup, she wrote: ‘Kadcyla is the drug that is keeping me alive.
It is currently stopping my cancer from spreading any further within my body. It gives me a relatively conventional life. It buys the average patient an extra 9 months of life.
She was three months’ pregnant when she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive inflammatory breast cancer in 2015.
She refused chemotherapy and ignored doctor’s recommendations at the time to have an abortion in order to give her baby a fighting chance.
Baby Ally Louise Smith was born 12 weeks early via c-section on December 12, 2015 – sadly she passed away just eight days later after developing an infection.
Ms Loughlin, who is also mother to Noah, 4, and Tait, 3, was told in September 2016 that her cancer was terminal.
Ms Loughlin first noticed something was wrong when she was breastfeeding youngest son Tait in February 2015, and noticed a rash.
Doctors warned she had just four years left to live last September, when her rare and aggressive inflammatory breast cancer worsened
Ms Loughlin, from Bristol, described her ordeal as being like ‘swimming in the wake of a ship wreck’ and ‘fighting an impossible battle’
THE BIGGEST BREAKTHROUGH FOR BREAST CANCER PATIENTS
Thousands of breast cancer sufferers are now be able to take a revolutionary drug following its approval for routine use on the NHS.
Kadcyla, considered the biggest breakthrough for sufferers in the last decade, was previously rejected due to its cost.
Campaigners reacted in anger when rationing watchdog NICE made the decision to block the medication in England two years ago.
But a decision in June meant 1,200 women dying with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer – one of the most aggressive forms of the disease – can now get their hands on the life-saving drug.
Kadcyla, considered the biggest breakthrough for sufferers in the last decade, was previously rejected due to its cost. But the NHS has announced it will now be available for thousands
Advocates of the life-saving drug called the NHS’ cut-price deal with its manufacturer as being a major victory for sufferers.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, was behind desperate pleas to make the drug available to women in England before the new proposals were announced.
She previously lambasted NICE for denying sufferers access to the drug that is available in France, Germany, Australia and Canada.
A report in August criticised NICE of failing to negotiate on the price – and warned of the rigid medical assessment system.
But NHS England managed to strike a deal with Swiss manufacturer Roche to make the drug, which is delivered by a drip every three weeks, available.
Previously, patients could only access it through the Cancer Drugs Fund, before the responsibility was passed over to NICE last July.
In clinical trials, Kadcyla was shown to extend the lives of people with terminal cancer by an average of six months.
The drug, which normally costs £90,000 per patient, also dramatically improves quality of life, compared with other treatments, and reduces side-effects.
She refused chemotherapy and ignored doctor’s recommendations at the time to have an abortion in order to give her baby a fighting chance. Baby Ally Louise Smith was born 12 weeks early via c-section but passed away just eight days later after developing an infection
But this week, in an incredible turn of events, Ms Loughlin’s latest scan has shown her body to be currently free of the disease – believed to be because of Kadcyla
Ms Loughlin, who has also undergone chemotherapy to rid her of her disease, has said she is ‘so grateful’ for the precious time she has been given back to spend with her sons
But doctors said she had mastitis – a common condition for new mothers where breast tissue becomes painful and inflamed.
She thought nothing more of it, and was overjoyed to learn she had fallen pregnant with her third child months later.
THE COMMON SIGNS OF BREAST CANCER
- A change in size or shape
- A lump or area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast
- A change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like the skin of an orange)
- Redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
- Your nipple has become pulled in or looks different, for example changed its position or shape
- Liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing
- Pain in your breast or your armpit that’s there all or almost all of the time
- A swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
But in September she was left devastated when tests revealed she had inflammatory breast cancer, a rare form of the disease with a typical prognosis of two to five years.
And a year later, in September 2016, she was dealt a further blow when she was told she had four years to live.
Ms Loughlin, who had been documenting her cancer journey on her blog throughout this time, began compiling a bucket list of things to do before she died.
These included a Christmas trip to Disneyland Paris, road trips across Australia and the USA, getting married, and living to see her sons start primary school, secondary school and university.
And now that she is cancer-free, she still plans to throw herself into life as much as possible – as doctors suspect her cancer may eventually become active again.
She said: ‘Next year that’s going to be my main aim, I’m going to start thinking about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.
‘A lot of people are terrified to do that, because they think it will come back to get them.
‘But actually it doesn’t change – whether I spend the entire time terrified and wasting time on feeling terrible about what might happen to me, or I spend the entire time embracing the time that I’ve got.’
Ms Loughlin has won a legion of fans online for her up-front and brutally honest blog, called Storm in a Tit Cup, about the disease.
She has also been ticking items off her bucket list – including marrying her fiancé in February and taking a road trip across America in May.
Her blog can be found here: .