Hello my name is Elizabeth and I hope you enjoy my story, and please share with anyone this could help!
Nearly 2 years ago I got a diagnosis we all dread. Cancer. Invasive lobular breast cancer. 36 years old. single mum to two young children. And about to lose so much of what makes me a woman.
Over the course of the next year, I would undergo a double mastectomy, 6 months of chemotherapy, oophorectomy to remove my ovaries, reconstructive surgery and ongoing medical treatment. I lost weight, lost my hair, lost my eyelashes and it felt like I was losing my mind!
But throughout my treatment, I carried on working for my charity Kicks Count as much as I could and 8 weeks after my ovary surgery I climbed Ben Nevis to raise money.
People were amazed I could carry on with such strength. I had breast cancer! I should be taking it easy! So why was I pushing myself so hard?
My baby. The baby I buried. If anything was going to break me, that was it.
8 years ago I went into hospital pregnant with my son and I left with empty arms. I went from feeling little tiny feet kicking to rubbing an empty belly. And after leaving the hospital things didn’t get any better. There were post-mortem results, the funeral, burying the ashes, visiting the grave, seeing pregnant women and babies everywhere and trying to maintain some degree of normality for my daughter.
At that point, I could barely get out of bed, let alone climb a mountain. The pain was like nothing I had ever experienced, or could ever have imagined.
But somehow I got through. I got up every day and I put one foot in front of the other. Eventually, I found a way to turn my grief into something positive.
I volunteered for Kicks Count (called Count the Kicks at the time) and eventually went on to become CEO. I felt so strongly that this would work, that this would help. The UK has one of the worst stillbirth rates in the developed world, a third of which occur after 37 weeks when the baby is considered full term. The majority of Mums who have a stillbirth noticed a change in their baby’s movements beforehand as a baby in distress tends to slow their movements 12 to 48 hours before they pass away. Kicks counts had a very simple message…Report any change in your babies movements immediately. In Norway this simple message had helped reduce their stillbirth rate by 50%. All we needed to do was make every single pregnant woman aware of Kicks Count.
But while the message is simple, getting it through to mums who are bombarded with out of date advice, old wives tales and commercial websites spouting whatever myths they like is amazingly difficult. But nothing was going to stop me trying.
Not even Cancer.
Now my hair is growing back, my scars are healing, but nothing will ever bring back my son. But every message we get that a baby is here because of kicks count is a little fist bump in his honour.
If you know anyone who is pregnant please let them know about Kicks Count, from me and Toby. x