A mum’s tough­est choice

Di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer, preg­nant Lau­ren couldn’t bear to ter­mi­nate

Central Queensland News - - WEEKEND - BY Kiri ten Dolle

LAU­REN Cochrane waited years for this news: she was preg­nant. And then came some she never wanted to hear: she had breast can­cer – again. De­spite two long years try­ing for a baby, doc­tors told Lau­ren to ter­mi­nate her preg­nancy at 11 weeks in the in­ter­ests of her own health.

She de­fi­antly chose to con­tinue the preg­nancy.

“I was ad­vised ter­mi­na­tion would give me the best treat­ment op­tions,” the 36-year-old told Week­end.

“I didn’t want to do that. We tried for a long time – a cou­ple of years – so I strug­gled a lot with that idea. I went and got a sec­ond opin­ion. He (the sec­ond doc­tor) said ‘ide­ally, ter­mi­nat­ing the preg­nancy is your best op­tion, but there are other op­tions…’ “That ‘but’ was all I needed to hear.”

Lau­ren’s “other op­tion” was a mas­tec­tomy. At 15 weeks preg­nant, she un­der­went surgery to have her left breast re­moved. She was also ad­vised to un­dergo chemo­ther­apy while preg­nant.

“I couldn’t bring my­self to do chemo,” she said. “I had to do what­ever I had to do for the both of us. It wasn’t just about me any­more.

“It put me at risk, it lim­ited what I could do, but I held off on the chemo­ther­apy.”

Lau­ren was first di­ag­nosed with duc­tal car­ci­noma in situ at 29 years old, just two months be­fore her wed­ding in April 2011 to hus­band, Michael.

At a rou­tine pap smear and check-up, her fam­ily doc­tor dis­cov­ered a 3cm lump in her left breast.

Her mother had bat­tled breast can­cer at age 39 and had been clear for 19 years, but tests proved Lau­ren’s can­cer was not ge­netic.

“Eight weeks out from my wed­ding I had a lumpec­tomy, the lump re­moved, and I didn’t have any fur­ther treat­ment. I chose to pur­sue nat­u­ral ther­a­pies from that point,” she said.

“I went back to the sur­geon for an 18-month check-up in 2012 and where I had the ini­tial biopsy was raised scar­ring. I con­stantly asked about it and was told it was just scar­ring. It started to change. I had an­other biopsy and a week later the re­sults came in and the can­cer was con­firmed. It had come back.

Lau­ren de­scribed her preg­nancy as scary due to “the big un­known”.

“The can­cer was hor­mone pos­i­tive or hor­mone re­cep­tive – and my hor­mones were crazy be­ing preg­nant,” she said.

“I had the mas­tec­tomy and the mar­gins from the surgery were clear. It hadn’t spread into the lymph nodes and the doc­tors were fairly con­fi­dent they had re­moved all of the can­cer in the surgery, which was promis­ing.

“But there was a risk it could metas­ta­sise through­out my body be­cause the can­cer was hor­mone pos­i­tive.”

Lau­ren oth­er­wise had a healthy preg­nancy and her daugh­ter Vi­o­let, now four, was born in Fe­bru­ary 2013.

“The birth of my daugh­ter helped me tremen­dously be­cause

‘‘ You’re a higher risk in those first two years of a re­cur­rence. I found it a lot more lib­er­at­ing when I had the sec­ond boob re­moved.

there were so many rea­sons to be strong and fight.

“I went into it (mother­hood) with­out ex­pec­ta­tions. I could only do what I could. I didn’t want to set my­self up for disappointment. I was able to breast­feed on my re­main­ing breast for six months.”

Two weeks after Vi­o­let was born, Lau­ren be­gan ra­di­a­tion as a pre­cau­tion as ad­vised by her on­col­o­gist. “It was tir­ing go­ing back and forth ev­ery day for six weeks, es­pe­cially with a new­born,” she said.

But it was only the start of a five-year jour­ney. In Septem­ber 2013, Lau­ren be­gan hor­mone ther­apy.

“I didn’t want to (have hor­mone ther­apy). I wanted to have more kids. I have one year left of the five-year treat­ment,” she said.

Then two years later, in 2015, Lau­ren un­der­went a sec­ond mas­tec­tomy, of her right breast, and a breast re­con­struc­tion.

“You’re a higher risk in those first two years of a re­cur­rence. I found it a lot more lib­er­at­ing when I had the sec­ond boob re­moved.”

In Septem­ber 2018, she will fin­ish the hor­mone ther­apy.

“I see the on­col­o­gist ev­ery few months be­cause I am still un­der­go­ing treat­ment. I’m con­fi­dent ev­ery­thing will be good. I would like to have more chil­dren, but if I can’t I’m blessed that I have my daugh­ter as some peo­ple don’t have that op­por­tu­nity,” Lau­ren said.

The south-east Queens­land mother joined the Na­tional Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion’s Speak­ers’ Bu­reau to help raise aware­ness and en­cour­age com­mu­nity sup­port of con­tin­ued breast can­cer re­search through fundrais­ing.

“I chose to speak up be­cause breast can­cer does hap­pen to younger women. Ev­ery­one can make a dif­fer­ence by hold­ing a Pink Rib­bon Break­fast on Oc­to­ber. Such a sim­ple ges­ture can make a big dif­fer­ence to many lives.”

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

◗ Lau­ren Cochrane was first di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer two months be­fore her wed­ding to Michael, and Lau­ren with daugh­ter Vi­o­let, 4.

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