Just 14 weeks into her pregnancy with daughter Arielle, the founder of Mummy’s Wish, Bernadette, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Bernadette was already mother to a 2-year-old son, Tiernan, and was forced to make the hardest decision any mother could make – whether to save her own life or that of her unborn child.
She decided to keep her baby and have lifesaving chemotherapy, not fully knowing what the impact would be on her unborn child. Arielle was born healthily at 33 weeks with no complications. Bernadette then continued her chemotherapy treatment and was finally told she was cancer free after 8 months of chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, only 6 weeks later she relapsed with a new, very aggressive tumour. Initial attempts at chemotherapy failed and the tumour continued to thrive at an alarming rate.
It was decided that a salvage tandem stem cell transplant was left as the only option to try to save Bernadette’s life. She underwent the gruelling process of two stem cell transplants back to back. She came very close to losing the battle during the first transplant however she eventually pulled through. After finishing the stem cell transplants she then had radiation treatment.
Finally, 2 years after her initial diagnosis and against all odds, she was told she was in remission.
Survival against all odds
Bernadette’s will to survive stemmed from not accepting that she was going to leave her children without a mother. Although being a mother to two young children made the battle so much harder, it also gave her the will to survive. She believes this willpower is what made her pull through.
Surviving cancer treatment is difficult for anyone, but trying to survive it as a young wife and mother to young children is nearly impossible. Bernadette was fortunate to have an extensive support network of family and friends available to help her every step of the way. After her 2-year battle with cancer, she had learnt a lot on her journey and knew that many women in her situation were not so fortunate. Bernadette believes she survived for a reason and part of that reason was so that she could use her knowledge and experience to help others in similar situations.