By Alyce Collins
THIS mum-of-four was diagnosed with INCURABLE SECONDARY CANCER while heavily pregnant, but she refuses to be halted as she dresses in HEELS for chemotherapy and gets called the ‘most glamorous patient’.
Personal trainer Lisa Fry (39) from Cheltenham, UK, was breastfeeding her third son, Woody (10) in 2011 when she found a lump in her left breast before being diagnosed with stage three aggressive breast cancer at just 31 years old.
Following her diagnosis, Lisa had 12 rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy a lumpectomy and a lymph node clearance under her armpit as the cancer had spread. Having fought for her life, Lisa relished her health and became a personal trainer and a Sergeant in the Cadet Force.
Lisa longed for a fourth child and when she and her husband Waynne struggled to conceive naturally, they sought help from a specialist. While visiting a fertility specialist in 2014, Lisa was told that chemotherapy destroyed all of her eggs and she was possibly going through the menopause at 35. Lisa was devastated that cancer took this decision away from her.
In 2017, Lisa was at a training course with the Cadets when she began feeling unwell. She panicked that her sickness was her cancer returning, but blood tests revealed that miraculously, she was 10 weeks pregnant.
Throughout her pregnancy, she remained scared that she would lose her miracle baby, although her excitement grew increasingly as her pregnancy progressed.
Jubilation changed to fear when Lisa found a lump in her breast at 35 weeks pregnant. She hoped it was a fatty lump, but at 39 weeks pregnant it was confirmed as cancer. In order to start treatment, Lisa was induced three days later and her youngest son, Jagger was born on March 25, 2018.
When Jagger was two weeks old, Lisa had a full body PET scan which revealed the secondary cancer spread from her breast to her chest lymph nodes and sternum bone. Now, Lisa has maintenance chemotherapy and likes to look as glamorous as possible for treatment because if she looks better, she feels better.
“When I found the lump in 2011, I was in such shock as I was 31 years young,” said Lisa.
“Chemo in 2011 was horrendous as I was so sick and poorly. I lost my hair, had breast surgery on both breasts, radiotherapy and another two years of antibody chemo. I also had six years of taking Tamoxifen medication.
“I moved on with my life when I was through that and became a personal trainer and joined the Cadet Force. I always longed for another baby, but after years of trying, my husband and I spoke to a specialist who told me chemo had destroyed my eggs and it wasn’t going to happen for us.
“I was gutted that cancer had made that choice for me – it was supposed to be my decision whether I had more children or not. The icing on the cake was being told I was probably in the menopause as well.
“Fast forward nearly three years, in August 2017, I was at a training course for the Cadets which involved crawling through the forest carrying a rifle and sleeping under the stars, and I began feeling unwell.
“I started to worry the cancer was coming back so I had tests done and found out I was 10 weeks pregnant. I thought it was a joke after being told it wasn’t going to happen.
“I had to stop my medication immediately and was monitored constantly throughout the pregnancy. There was a risk that chemo had damaged the baby and the risks from still taking the medication before knowing I was pregnant.
“I had scans every three weeks which kept me reassured our baby was doing well, but it was hard to get excited as I was worried our little miracle was going to be taken from us.
“I was so happy to be pregnant again but constantly worried about my baby’s health and development. As time went by and it got nearer, I grew excited to meet him I just wanted to hold him and know he was okay.
“I found a lump in my breast when I was about 35 weeks pregnant but again, I just thought it was nothing as I had lumps pop up before and they turned out to be fatty lumps.
“But something kept making me think about it, so I rang my breast care team and they arranged to see me. When I saw them at 39 weeks, they told me straight away it was cancer.
“I was in complete shock saying ‘no, I’m having a baby in less than two weeks, this can’t be happening’.
“I cried all the way home as I was worried for my baby. When I got home my husband was waiting for me and we cried, and I thought how could this be happening again? I remember screaming ‘I can’t die’.”
Three days after her diagnosis, Lisa was induced because she needed to have full body scans which couldn’t be done while pregnant.
Lisa already has three sons, Charlie (14), Marley (12) and Woody (10), and Jagger was born March 25, 2018. However, within weeks of the delivery, Lisa was having scans and treatment to fight her secondary cancer which was no longer curable, only treatable.
“Two weeks after our baby was born, I had a full body PET scan, and two weeks later I was told the devastating news that the cancer had spread from my breast to my chest lymph nodes and sternum bone. I was classed as incurable with a life limiting disease,” said Lisa.
“When my consultant told me it had spread to my sternum, my world just fell apart. I burst out crying, I couldn’t believe what she was saying. This really couldn’t be happening to me.
“My husband was crying his eyes out, holding our baby. I kept shaking my head saying no this can’t be happening. It was the worst time of my life, it makes me feel sick thinking about it now.
“I couldn’t take it all in, it was a massive shock. How could this be happening to me? I had a two-week-old baby sat there and three children at home.
“It felt cruel that I had been given this little miracle and I wasn’t going to be around to see him grow up and that he might not remember me.
“Chemo was hard because I desperately wanted to do stuff with the baby and the boys, but I just felt too poorly.
“I did six cycles of chemo and lost my hair again. After the six cycles I had a scan again which showed my tumours had shrunk. They will always be there, but they had shrunk which was good.
“I have now moved on to maintenance chemo which I will do for the rest of my life for as long as it keeps working.
“Whenever I go for chemotherapy, I always dress like I’m going out somewhere nice. I wear my heels and make up and it makes me feel better.
“If I went in jogging bottoms with no makeup and didn’t bother with my appearance, I’d feel even worse. Me wearing makeup, heels and nice clothes makes me feel like me. It makes me feel like I’ve made an effort.
“If you look good you feel better, and I believe it’s helped me. I get called the most glamorous patient and get so many compliments. It just feels great.
“I try to lead a normal life for my children’s sake, and they certainly keep us busy with school and all their clubs they attend.
“I have really good days where I feel positive and I’m not going to let this affect me, then really bad days when I just can’t believe this is happening to me.
“We must look after our bodies. What we put in it and what we surround ourselves with has a massive impact on our health and state of mind. I urge people to drop the processed foods and sugar. Finally, wear your best clothes every day – don’t keep them for special occasions.
“I treat every day as if I was going somewhere really special and I don’t let cancer define me.”
You can see more of Lisa’s amazing posts by visiting @lisa_vs_secondarycancer.