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Giving 'guts' a whole new meaning

November 2, 2017

When Laura was 19 weeks pregnant, she was told she had to have surgery to remove her stomach, which left some specialists stating, "It's you or your baby".

*Spoiler alert* - she picked her baby - and pushed against strong medical advice.

But both are now happy and healthy 6 months on, this is their story.

 

 

Ok so firstly, how the hell do you live without a stomach?

This is the top question I am asked these days, and believe it or not my answer is pretty boring.  I live just the same as I used to, with a few tweeks here and there to my diet.

I am now living my days around food - I need to eat every 3 hours and drink in between my meals, rather than with my meals.  But as far as foods etc. I can eat anything and everything I want. I am having major weight issues at current, I'll blame my super fast metabolism that never allowed me to gain weight even with a stomach.  So of course I am finding it very difficult to maintain, let alone gain weight, without a stomach.

 

 

When you first found out about the cancer and the need to remove your stomach, was there a strong medical push to terminate your pregnancy? How did you make up your mind?

So I was 19 weeks pregnant the week I found out I had cancer. At first the surgeon (who found the cancer, but not an expert on the specific cancer) suggested I speak to my obstetrician and schedule a C-section for 37 weeks. A few days later, after another scope that found the cancer to have spread, I was sent straight too specialists to which their response was, "It's you or your baby".

 

This completely broke me. I mean, I felt little Alfie kicking me and rolling around in there, he was a person.  How can I cut his life short and live with myself.

 

I went home and I researched high and low for similar situations, and world wide specialists of this specific gene mutation and tumor.  Eventually I found a woman in the field and she agreed that we could wait until my pregnancy was viable, so I would carry until 26 weeks. 

 

How did your husband feel during that time? Was there any point when he wanted you to terminate for your own health?

He was amazing the whole way through it, I saw a side to him I had never seen before and I feel more in love with him then I ever thought possible.  Never once did he try to tell me to do anything other then what I wanted. He stood by my every decision.

 

 

Originally Alfie was meant to be born at 26 weeks, but in the end wasn’t born until 32 weeks – was that because of you pushing or was there another reason?

When we found the specialist who would let me carry until 26 weeks, I scrambled on google for all of the info I could find on '26 weekers' and their survival rates.

Something deep inside me didn't feel comfortable with this time frame, so against all medical advice, with the support of my partner Cam, I decided I would carry until 32 weeks (all the statistic for bubs were a lot better at this gestation). 

I struggled immensely everyday leading up to the date of the C-section, worrying every minute that I was making the wrong decision.  I had to then wait another week post C-section for my surgery, so I worried that I would push my time limit too far, and not be here for my new baby or family. 

 

I love that during your pregnancy, despite everything that was going on, your IG still largely focused on your 2 eldest kids.  Was it important to you to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible?

Our everyday life changed very quickly after all the plans were set in stone. I spent EVERYDAY soaking up my babies and spoiling them rotten. I went a little over board to be honest, but I just wasn't sure what the next few months would hold and I needed to make sure they had some good memories god forbid anything should not go to plan. WE had a lot of fun and did a lot of naughty things (Malteasers for brekki, ice cream for dinner) but they loved it and no one got hurt despite all the sugar .

 

There was a week between Alfie being born and your stomach being removed, why didn’t they do both at the same time?

There was some talk about doing it all together, but the risk of post partum haemorrhaging was to risky. Also, the fact that all the organs are pushed around in pregnancy meant they couldn't be sure as to where my stomach would be positioned, so required time for it to return to normal.

 

What are the long term effects from the cancer (apart from the obvious no stomach), are you able to have more kids?

Yes, my future will go on as normal, no restrictions at all. I need regular iron infusions and B12 vitamin shots but that is all to easy.

 

Have your kids been tested for the gene or will they need to be?

Legally they can not be tested until they are old enough to give consent, so for now its a LOOOONNNNGGG waiting game. 

 

 

To follow Laura's journey (she's about to get married!),

follow her on Instagram or Facebook

 

A last word from Laura -

I just want people to be aware of their family history. I know for me, when doctors asked those questions, I always just answered with nothing.  To be honest, I wasn't even aware of the history of stomach and lobular breast cancer (also caused by the CDH1 gene) in our family. It so important to know these things.

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