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23 / 10 / 2009 - Baby joy for cancer mum
A MOTHER who was diagnosed with breast cancer during her pregnancy believes her unborn baby helped her beat the disease.
Brave Angela Bedford thought she would have to undergo a termination after her devastating diagnosis.
But doctors came up with a plan to treat Angela while also saving the life of her unborn baby.
Despite her undergoing a mastectomy and powerful chemotherapy treatment, Angela's daughter was born weighing a healthy 5lbs and 140zs.
The 41-year-old from Mackworth, believes pregnancy hormones and being more "body-aware" due to her condition enabled her to find the initial cancerous lump in her breast.
Now the 41-year-old mum-of-two says "miracle Melissa" is the reason she beat the cancer.
Emotional Angela said: "I knew I had to fight this cancer because I had a baby growing inside of me."
She said she was strong for the sake of her unborn child and her other daughter, five-year-old Imogen.
THERE'S a big reason why Angela Bedford battled hard to beat breast cancer – she was about to become a mum.
During life-saving surgery to remove her breast, and blasts of intense chemotherapy treatment, she prayed that her baby would survive.
Now, as she cradles her six-month-old daughter in her arms, the 41-year-old mum believes "miracle Melissa" helped to save her life.
"She's the reason I fought so hard to get rid of this cancer," says Angela.
"I had to survive otherwise Melissa would have died and my eldest daughter, Imogen, would have been without a mum."
Angela, of Mackworth, believes the only reason she discovered a lump in her breast was because she was pregnant.
She found the mass, about the size of a golf ball, when she was eight weeks' pregnant.
"I blame all my pregnancy hormones," she said. "I'm convinced being pregnant helped me to find it. I felt the lump in the middle of the night when I was going to the bathroom.
"I was holding myself because I was cold, and it was just there. It was quite big.
"The next day, I booked in to see the doctor.
"It wasn't there before I was pregnant," said Angela. "And if it was, then I didn't find it. But when you're pregnant, your breasts are so much more sensitive. You're so much more in tune with your body."
Within weeks, Angela was referred to the breast cancer unit at the Royal Derby Hospital.
One week later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I was really shocked," she said. "All I could think about was my baby.
"I thought the doctors would suggest that I have a termination and I suppose I'd have agreed.
"But I was amazed by what happened next."
Angela, who had already had one miscarriage, says she was totally overwhelmed when doctors said that the baby's life could be saved.
"I was shocked," said Angela, an administrator. "The doctors were wonderful. They told me they'd get me through it and my baby would be OK."
Two hours before surgery, Angela was allowed to hear her baby's heartbeat on a fetal monitors. After the op, her obstetrician returned holding the exact same piece of equipment.
"It was so lovely to hear the baby again," said Angela, who married her fiancee, 45-year-old Ian, in August.
"I can't say I thought too much about having my breast off. All that was running through my mind was that the baby was still alive.
"The doctors gave me so much reassurance. I can't thank them enough."
Angela had four doses of chemotherapy following her mastectomy. Treatment started when she was half way through her pregnancy.
"I didn't really feel too unwell," said Angela. "I was lucky. I was worried about having chemotherapy but I put my faith in the doctors."
It was Christmas Eve 2008 when Angela received the news she and Ian, who works as a steel erector, had been waiting for.
Doctors revealed that the cancer had not spread and all her results had come back clear. She was cancer-free.
"It was the best Christmas present," said Angela. "Despite still having chemo, we had a great Christmas. The baby was developing fine and doctors were really pleased with us."
When Angela lost her beautiful, long auburn hair she wasn't upset. She bought a wig and remembers Imogen telling her how lovely she looked.
"Imogen was amazing. She was so strong. I tried to carry on as normal for her sake, but she was fantastic."
On May 6, baby Melissa was born by cesarean section, weighing 5lbs and 14ozs. She was delivered two weeks early so as not to interrupt Angela's chemo treatment.
"It was wonderful to see her," said Angela. "She was perfect. She was lovely in every way.
"I was jealous because she had more hair than me," she laughed.
"I know she's a miracle baby. I know she saved my life. I have everything to thank her for."
Doctors told Angela she could not breast feed, but she wasn't too disappointed.
Three days after the birth, she was allowed to home.
Despite her diagnosis of having beaten the cancer, Angela still has to undergo treatment to make sure it does not return.
A week after returning home with Melissa, Angela was back in hospital having more chemotherapy.
"After Melissa was born, the treatment really knocked me off my feet," said Angela. "I felt quite ill at times and I ached all over my body.
"My mum was my rock. She came to help me."
Following her final course of chemotherapy, Angela started daily treatment with radiotherapy. She has six more sessions to go.
"I'm doing well," she beamed. "I'll be all done by next week. I'm already cancer-free but this is the final stage."
While Angela has her treatment, a local child minder takes Imogen to school and Angela drops Melissa to her mum's house in Allestree.
She has to be at the hospital every morning, except weekends, for about an hour.
"I'm not complaining, but it will be lovely not to have to race off every morning at 8.15am. I'll be able to take Imogen to school and start enjoying my maternity leave with Melissa.
"All I've ever wanted to do is be a mum to my two children and finally I'll be able to concentrate on them.
"We'll be able to do normal things and be a normal family.
"I don't have cancer any more but I do have two wonderful, adorable children. They're everything to me."
Angela's mum, 72-year-old Maureen Bedford, of Allestree, is so proud of her daughter.
She said: "I could never have coped like Angela has. She's been amazing and so strong throughout.
"We still call Melissa our little miracle and I think we always will."
Angela's consultant obstetrician, Miss Eimear Kieran, based at the Royal Derby Hospital, said: "I'm thrilled to hear they're both doing so well."
Source: Derby Telegraph