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Mum relives terrifying choice after being diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy

A mum-of-three has spoken of the heartbreaking decision she had to make after being diagnosed with cancer during her pregnancy.

The 29-year-old was told of the devastating news when she was 11 weeks pregnant with her third child.

Roberta Burton was told she had stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June 2019, reports ChronicleLive.

After finding out, she was “terrified” about the affects of chemotherapy on her unborn child.

But without going through with the intense treatment, she would have risked not being there for her two other children.

She made the “tough” decision to start treatment – and is now preparing to celebrate her son’s first birthday.

Roberta, from Stannington, near Morpeth, Northumberland, was 6 weeks pregnant when her husband noticed a lump on her neck.

After a series of tests she was diagnosed with the blood cancer and told she would need to undergo intensive chemotherapy treatment.

She said: “When I was going for the tests I’d been doing a bit of research into the symptoms.

“It was confusing as some of them could have easily been hormonal and pregnancy related, but I knew it wasn’t good. So while it was still a massive shock to hear I had cancer, I partly expected it.

She added: “Scans showed the cancer had spread to my chest, so I needed to act quickly to ensure I wasn’t going to leave it too late.”

After much discussion and planning Roberta decided to begin treatment after a scan of the baby showed he was developing well.

She said: “The scan showed his heart was strong and that we could begin treatment once we passed the 17 week point where the placenta would work to protect him from any of the toxic drugs.”

Roberta, who was already mum to Noah, 5 and Ezra, 3, began chemotherapy in August 2019 and completed her eight cycles at the Freeman Hospital.

She said: “It was so tough having chemo with the usual symptoms of pregnancy and looking after my two other boys doing the school run with Noah and chasing around after a toddler. But I just decided I wouldn’t mope around and had to get on with it. I had no other choice.”

Roberta was booked in for a caesarean section and her medical team delivered a healthy baby boy, Elias, in December 2019, four weeks before his due date.

Roberta said: “I look at him now about to turn one year old and can’t believe it. He really is my miracle boy. It’s incredible what the consultants were able to do to get him in my arms.”

Following the birth Roberta began three weeks radiotherapy in January and has now been given the all clear. She will have check-ups every three months.

Roberta said: “Just as my treatment ended and I thought I was going to be able to get back to normal life, I was told I would need to shield because of coronavirus. So me and my three boys were cooped up indoors, which has actually been the hardest challenge of my life.”

Now Roberta is appealing for people to support Cancer Research UK tackle a devastating loss of research funding caused by Covid-19.

Due to the fall-out of the pandemic Cancer Research UK is expecting a staggering £160 million drop in income this year, which is putting future breakthroughs at risk.

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