Love is in the air for one of our dearest supporters this Valentine’s Day
Emma Neville thought that she may never get the chance to be a mother when diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 23. Now expecting her first child in June and planning her dream wedding this year, Emma is looking forward to making her dreams a reality, post-breast cancer.
Being a keen supporter of Prevent Breast Cancer, Emma shares her true love story with us this Valentine’s Day, hoping to inspire others to stay strong and ‘fight for the life you want’.
Before you found out you had breast cancer, how aware were you that people in their 20s could develop the disease?
“I had no idea in all honesty – it isn’t something that I’d ever heard anyone in my age group talk about or even mention. I didn’t know anyone that had been through the disease either, so it never entered my mind until I found a lump that didn’t seem to be going away like my GP thought it would.”
What was your initial reaction to being diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age?
“I don’t honestly remember my reaction. Everything is one huge blur from the moment we saw the doctor walk into the room with the breast care nurses. The only part I remember was getting to my parents’ house and sitting on the bed and crying. I think that was the moment it really hit me, but this was hours after hearing the doctor say those words: breast cancer. My first thought was that it was going to kill me and that was hard for a 23-year-old to sit and contemplate. But without my family and boyfriend, Liam, I never would have made it through. They were my rock and my escape when I needed it.”
Following your diagnosis, how did your perception of your future change? Did you see it as an obstacle to pursuing your dreams?
“At first, yes, I assumed I was going to lose all my hair from the treatment, possibly lose my breasts and, after being told about the possible impact of chemotherapy on my fertility, I naturally assumed the disease had also taken away my chance of being a mother one day. It also put a lot of strain on my relationship with Liam because, within a week of my diagnosis, we were having to discuss the likelihood of us having children in the future and were talking with doctors about egg harvesting. We both had to make decisions for our future that we didn’t even have time to reflect on. It was tough, but I like to think it has made us stronger having gone through it all together.”
How does it feel to be pregnant now and to have a wedding to look forward to, in light of what you’ve been through?
“It is the most amazing feeling ever. To feel our little baby moving around and seeing it on the screen at the ultrasounds still, makes me tingle and cry with happiness every single time! I never thought this was going to be possible and we were preparing ourselves for a tough time of fertility treatment and disappointment with every negative test. But now I know it is real and cancer hasn’t taken my life away from me. It has made me a stronger person and I am living every day how I want to now. We have our first child due in June this year and we are also planning our dream wedding on New Year’s Eve this year, too! I still attend regular check-ups at the hospital, but the cancer doesn’t define my life now and I am creating a new life post-cancer, which is everything that I have ever wanted.”
What message would you give to young women currently fighting breast cancer?
“Stay strong and believe in your own strength to fight for the life that you want. Don’t be ashamed to be scared or tired – have your moment but then pick yourself up and continue to fight. You are not alone and, although it is rare for young women to suffer from the disease, it isn’t unheard of. There’s more and more research nowadays and it is exactly why I support Prevent Breast Cancer to help spread awareness and to give support where I can. Without Prevent Breast Cancer, I wouldn’t have my confidence and life back. It is all down to the vital research that the charity conducts that gives women and men a chance to imagine a breast cancer-free future as a real possibility and live their lives to the fullest.”