- Mummy’s Got a Lump
“I don’t have time for cancer…I have three children.” In this week’s episode, building up to Breast Cancer Awareness month, Carla is joined by Clair Milling. A brave and inspirational mother who, during lockdown, got diagnosed with incurable cancer. She shares her journey leading up to the diagnosis and provides incredible insight and awareness around cancer and the importance of women checking themselves regularly and not putting off seeing a doctor.
If you want to donate to Clair’s Go Fund me follow the link. below:
Below is a link to help you check your breasts:
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[00:01:32] Hello, and welcome to 50 Shades of Motherhood, uncensored, unhinged and unapologetic guilt-free real raw mum chats with me, your host, Carla Lett over-sharer, and founder of My Bump 2 Baby. The UK is leading the pregnancy to preschool directory.
[00:02:42] Hello everybody. And welcome to this week’s episode of 50 shades of motherhood. This week, I am joined by Clair Milling, an inspiring, brave mum with incurable cancer. Who is sharing her story urgently to mums to help them understand how important it is to get checked. So, Clair, it’s lovely to have you on this podcast today and I’m, I’m honestly, I’m really happy for you to join us. Thank you so much.
Clair: [00:03:16] Well, thank you for having me
Carla: [00:03:19] It’s really an honour to speak to you anyway, I’ve read all about your story and you’re just very, very inspiring and I’m sure a lot of mums will agree with me when they’re listening to this as well. So, so would you like to introduce yourself, Clair, just a bit about you.
Clair: [00:03:33] My name is Clair. Um, I’m 40 years old. I’m a mother of three. First one is Sebastian, he’s five, Olivia’s two and Elliot, my youngest, is eight months old. Um, we live in Plymouth, um, and, uh, I’ve just been diagnosed with incurable cancer.
Carla: [00:03:56] Right. Even hearing that, it’s just very difficult. Um, but, but I know the thing is what we want to do today with this episode is we really want to get your message out there and your story out there, because you had, you know, you went to the doctor and stuff like that, didn’t you? And, um, you know, yeah. We’ll go through it,
Clair: [00:04:17] I went to the doctors. Yeah. I saw a few people actually before. Before I actually, um, got to the Primrose centre in, in Derriford hospital, which is in Plymouth. Um, and because I was pregnant when I found the lump in my breast and the swelling in my armpit, it was just put down to, um, ducts and glands being swollen because of your ever changing body.
Carla: [00:04:44] Yeah. That’s the thing. A lot of doctors, they will say, won’t they? Oh yeah. It’s to be expected. And it’s difficult because, I mean, obviously you’ve got your Sebastian and Olivia already, and then you’re pregnant with your third and you do know that your body does change. Doesn’t it.
Clair: [00:05:00] Oh god yes.
Carla: [00:05:02] And it’s difficult because it’s like, I mean, I suppose your body changes and you just trust what the doctors say, don’t you. So, so going back to you as, as a mum, Clair, because you are a mum of three, which that’s amazing. So yeah, you’ve certainly got your hands full. So did you plan for three children Clair or did Elliot come as a surprise?
Clair: [00:05:26] Do you know what? Um, Oh story with having children is there’s very dramatic. So we started off having, trying for children about 11 years ago, and we got told that, um, we couldn’t reproduce, uh, by ourselves. So we went through the IVF route. Um, we did two rounds of IVF and they both didn’t work. And then we were told this probably won’t happen for you guys, you know, go and live normal lives. Just keep trying, but don’t make this your main focus. And then, uh, two weeks after our wedding day, we found out we were seven weeks pregnant with Sebastian.
[00:06:07] And so once we found out we could get pregnant and it was a complete shock and we were overwhelmed and, you know, we, we thought, Oh, he’s our miracle, baby. We then, um, we then tried for Olivia for three years. And then after, after Olivia, I was like, Oh, you know, I want to do this again. Crazy me. And, um, And then after Olivia’s first birthday we fell pregnant with Elliot.
Carla: [00:06:37] How amazing is that though? Is that Oh, wow. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you’ve, you’ve had a busy few years then Claire
Clair: [00:06:51] Yeah. And we’ve only been together 11 years.
Carla: [00:06:54] Oh my goodness. Wow. Wow. Um, right, so, so with Elliott, then your third, going back to the beginning of your story, cause I think it’s important. We get the full message out there. So everything with the pregnancy, it was a smooth journey. Um, during pregnancy then apart from obviously the lumps that you found on your arm, was it while you were showering Clair or?
Clair: [00:07:17] Yeah. So I was in the shower and I’m not a small lady, but I’m not a big lady either. And, um, lifted my armpit pit to shave my armpit. And I noticed that my, my armpit seemed swollen and in an unusual way. And, do you know what, actually, it was a couple of times I did it a couple of times. And then after a few times of thinking oh well it’s not gone down, I was like I’m going to go to the doctors and just find out what, why it’s swollen. And I kind of always felt like I’ve had lumpy breasts anyway, but so. The lump in the side of my breast was getting harder.
[00:08:01] Yeah. Was this down your arm was it then? Like down your arm towards your breasts, because a lot of people when they say a lump in the breast, you actually think it’s like, just in your breasts kind of thing. So it was down, down there.
[00:08:13] Yeah. And actually still to this day in my armpit, it’s just swollen. There’s no lump in my armpit, even though there is cancer there. There is actually no lump there, there is only the swelling that gave it away that there was cancer in my armpit. For the lump in my breast. I, so, so my friends and family I’m like, Oh, touch my touch my boob.
Carla: [00:08:38] Yeah,
Clair: [00:08:39] Because when, I hear lump. I think of this perfectly round lump. In my breast and I always used to say to people, Oh, what does lump mean? It’s like, you know, it’s hard to, when they say, Oh, you’ll find a lump. And then some people also mentioned like a pea size lump, whereas mine wasn’t, it wasn’t, it wasn’t perfectly round. It wasn’t a pea it was, it was abnormal for my body. That’s the best way to describe it. Mine was almost like, um, Uh, oval shaped rather than a perfectly round lump inside my breast. And because I’ve got multiple tumours, you could feel it, all around the side of my breast, it wasn’t just in one spot. It was all around my breast. So that also, I could understand why the doctors and the nurse. Um, we’re like thats, that’s your milk ducts. Because that is what that is all around your. Your breast and it is, they’re not perfectly round. And that is where my cancer is, is in my I’ve got ductile. Oh, I can’t say the word ductal cancer. So in all my, in all the sides of my, uh, breast.
Carla: [00:09:59] So, so was it sore then? Or was it just there? Was it tender?
Clair: [00:10:05] No. So, you know, every day we don’t, we don’t really, none of us fondle our breasts do we? So every day, living wouldn’t think anything of it, unless I was like really pushing on my breast, I would be like, that’s not tender it. It’s not uncomfortable, but it’s not quite right. It’s almost like. Um, if you press on your kneecap, you can feel your knee going in. Yes. But that’s in your boob. So it’s not uncomfortable. You’re just aware of pressure being in that area. And it normally should be all soft and wobbly, and like jelly on a plate. And it wasn’t,
[00:10:45] I think, especially when you’re pregnant though, like, like we said before, because your boobs obviously change. I mean, mine actually didn’t, you know, I remained like small boobs all the way through. They didn’t change it all, but they normally do change don’t they quite a lot, because obviously they’re preparing for the milk and all that. Um, and then, so I totally understand why obviously your doctor and your nurses have said that. And then obviously for you, that was an explanation, wasn’t it? Oh, that was. That’s that must be what it is. And then did you just go away then thinking nothing more? Do you know what, it’s um, a few, like I’ve had a few people ask me that and I was happy for that answer. It’s it’s funny. Even when I got diagnosed the first time they said to me, um, this is before the terminal part, when they said you’ve got cancer. My first initial thought was, I don’t have time to have cancer. I’ve got three children.
Carla: [00:11:41] No. I know
Clair: [00:11:42] Because you just think, I don’t have time for that? I don’t have time for everything let alone to have all this focus on me. So, um, it’s I was just, I was. One you believe and trust in the people that you’re asking for advice. Um, and then you think, well, you know, you know, more than I do, so I’m happy to walk away with that advice.
Carla: [00:12:08] Yeah. So, so, so after that then obviously I would be the same, um, Claire, I’d be exactly the same I think. When you go to your doctors, they’re knowledgeable. They know a lot, they see a lot, they’ve heard of a lot, so, you know, you go there and it’s almost like a bit of reassurance as well. Right. Everything’s okay. Yeah that’s what it is. And you will. I personally wouldn’t give it a second thought. I just think, right. Well, that’s what it is. At least still tell like you’ve had the baby and, um, you know, once you’ve had Elliot and if it was still there, then obviously you’d go back. But then when your son was born, um, he was breastfeeding wasn’t he? Is that right?
Clair: [00:12:44] So it was literally the day after I had an overnight stay in hospital. Um, With Elliot. And, um, it was the day of me due to leave. And I said, I’m really struggling to breastfeed from my right breast. I can only feed from my left and it was getting uncomfortable and sore and I was. I was just working myself up because he would only latch onto the one breast because there was no milk coming out of the other.
[00:13:13] So they had, um, in the ward, they have a nurse it’s like a specialist in helping the mum’s breastfeed. And she came and put their hands on my breasts and try. And she said, Oh, you, your ducts are blocked. You need to massage them Clair, because if you don’t, you will get an infection. And that’s very, very nasty and uncomfortable. So it was like, right. Okay. So she showed, it is a special technique to massage your boobs to, you know, get you a it’s like kneading dough. She said kneading dough. That’s how, there’s a special way to get your ducks to loosen up again. So I did, I went home and I did that and I kind of made it part of my routine, like getting in. And I only did it when I was in the shower and I just kept on rubbing my boobs, like dough in the shower. And then, um, after that, It wasn’t until lockdown. And obviously my, my, my husband works away and through locked down, he’s been home. So obviously I had an extra pair of hands at home and there was one day at home that they, you weren’t being bad. They were just being children and they were running around mental. Yeah. And it gets too much and they all went to bed. And I said to my husband, I just, I need to get in the bath. I just need to have a minute. And I got in the bath and the thing that sealed it for me, that, you know, I can’t keep on taking no, you’re fine for an answer is seeing my nipple inverted when my, my right nipple inverted, when my left nipple wasn’t and I rolled over in the bath to try and warm them up to see if that made a difference, if it popped out or anything. And it didn’t. So, um, Yeah, we, uh, after I got out of the bath, um, me and my husband Googled that there’s a, there’s a sheet, like a poster of what to look out for, uh, visual signs of your breast.
Carla: [00:15:14] Did it ring, alarm bells for you that, because I definitely heard of an invert, inverted, breast being, a sign of cancer. Is it a sign?
Clair: [00:15:23] Yes.
Carla: [00:15:23] Right.
Clair: [00:15:24] It’s one of the, one of the big signs.
Carla: [00:15:26] Did you know that Clair?
Clair: [00:15:27] Yeah. Yes. Yeah, I did. Cause you go onto Google and, um, put in signs of breast cancer. So a visual of looking at your breasts is I think there’s like six pictures of you being able to see. Um, cause also one of them is, um, one boob being, um, considerably a lot smaller than the other. So not, um, not just slightly smaller because we all have slightly. Um, smaller breast and the other, but like considerably a lot smaller, um, which has now happened to my breast as well.
Carla: [00:16:05] Right, right.
Clair: [00:16:06] But they’re six. I mean, any, anybody could Google this, the signs of breast cancer and you, and it will pop up and put it in images and it will pop up as a little poster.
Carla: [00:16:20] I’ll make sure we put those on the show notes for anyone listening, and I think that’s important. So, so obviously that must have, if you knew about that, any way that must have, um, Been quite scary at the time, so that you and your husband, you looked at the poster then and you, and you saw that. And then did you make an appointment the next day then?
Clair: [00:16:40] First thing in the morning we phoned the doctor. Um, and this, the doctor we found this time was a new doctor. Our, doctor surgery is actually shut down. We went to we’re in a new surgery and as soon as I told her, um, about my armpit and the lump and the inverted nipple, she went, she said, Clair don’t, well cause we’re obviously still in the lockdown period. I’m not going to see you. But what I’m going to do is refer you straight to the Primrose centre in Derriford. So the first time anybody, um, professionally in that field touched my breasts was, was when we went out to the Primrose centre and they were amazing.
Carla: [00:17:28] Oh, wow. Right. So, so, I mean, did you feel like you knew at this point, or did you still kind of just hope that there was a simple, well I imagine you of course hope there was a simple explanation, but what, what did you feel like during that time? That wait?
Clair: [00:17:44] I think for me, I mean, like all mums, I think we all put ourselves in the back of our heads because we’re not important enough. For us to continuously think about. So I, because we think about the children and our partners and the house done, and school runs and changing baby’s bottoms. And when, when she said you’re going to go straight to the school run, to school run, to the Primrose centre, I just, I think there was a calmness of, I know it is. It’s the strangest feeling ever. And I wasn’t, I know, I know a lot of people would not feel the same way that I did, but I just, for me, it was like, I know, I knew in my heart, it was there. I just needed somebody professional to tell me.
Carla: [00:18:39] Hm. Thats so sad. Yeah. How long did you have to wait then Claire, between the appointments? Cause obviously this was during lockdown and when I read it about your story, I read that you said like, you know, you didn’t want to, especially with lockdown, I’m thinking a lot of people felt the same. You didn’t want to go back, keep going back to the doctors to feel like you’re wasting the time and stuff like that. So I imagine it took you a while to phone anyway. Um, but was there a much of a wait between?
Clair: [00:19:06] So, um, the day that, Oh, we got the referral. I think it was like a week later was the referral. We went up to the Primrose centre and on, on that day, the whole day, you see, I never knew this. So we went up and spoke to, um, my surgeon, who is my surgeon now. Um, and he, you know, stripped down, let’s feel your breasts under your armpits, lie down, stand up, all those sort of things. And then I went to a mammogram. Um, then I went back to the seating area and then they sent me for another mammogram. And then I went back to the seating area and then we went into the, uh, he went in for a consult and he said, Clair, we’re going to send you for us ultrasound on your breast. And there and then doing the ultrasound. They did the biopsy. So they took three lumps out of my breast and they took three lumps out of my armpit, um, and straight after, so then they, them. Uh, Oh God, sorry. I’m losing my words. It’s because it’s the end of the day. And because of the chemo makes you, um, very brain foggy, so I apologise.
Carla: [00:20:28] Oh no, don’t, don’t honestly, it’s, it’s amazing. All this, all this information. Gosh. Yeah, I’m just, I’m actually just listening to, I’m getting a bit emotional listening to what you’ve had to go through. But, um, so, so they took the, the lumps out and then did he, did they send them off for examination straight away while you were there then? Or?
Clair: [00:20:49] So um, the lady that did the ultrasound and the biopsy, she then took them off. I went then back into the consultant and he said this is what’s going to happen. Um, this is one of our, um, breast cancer nurses. She’ll be helping me look after you. Um, And he just said, you know, we have to wait for the biopsy. And he said, I said, he said, do you have any questions? And I said, no, no, we don’t. And my mum, cause I took my mum with me because I suffered with panic attacks. So they allowed my mum to stay with me, which that don’t normally happen in with lockdown. You’re not normally allowed to have somebody with you. And, uh, he said, okay, then it just, as he was about to walk out the door, I said, I do have a question actually. And he said, okay. I said, What do you think it is? And he said, there’s very few people that are brave enough to ask that question. I do think you’ve got cancer.
Carla: [00:21:53] Good. I just got a shiver down my spine, listening to that. That’s I mean, what did you, Oh, bet your mum was just beside herself as well.
Clair: [00:22:03] Do you know what? I’ve never seen anybody. Physically jumped through words. Do you know, like if somebody’s scared and they jumped out of their skin, my mum jumped out of her skin through the words. Um, and I, I just, I, well, we had we had a little cry and we had a big cry. I’m not going to lie we had a big cry all the way back to the car. Um, but at the same time, there was a part of me at the back of my head was like, I knew it. I knew I knew something wasn’t right. So, um, yeah, it was very, um, surreal. Very, yeah.
Carla: [00:22:44] Was your husband there as well Clair? Was it just your mum? It was just my mum. Yeah, because you’re not actually allowed anybody else into the hospital with you. Um, at the moment still, we’re not, I’ve got to go in for my chemo cause. Before COVID you were allowed to have somebody come into chemo with you as well. Yeah, yeah,
Clair: [00:23:03] But now you have to do it all solo as well.
Carla: [00:23:05] That’s, that’s heartbreaking. Um, Oh goodness. So after was it the same day you got the results back then? Or did you have to go home then and wait?
Clair: [00:23:16] No, we had to go home and wait for confirmation. But it, because we, I actually had a late appointment on that day as well. I mean, I don’t think I would have got the results back that day, but it was two days later. So it wasn’t. I mean it’s faster than what you do some blood results from when you go to the doctors. I mean, it’s still pretty, pretty fast.
Carla: [00:23:39] Yeah. Yeah. But I imagine it’s a long time after hearing that comment, as you leave into kind of the two days afterwards, like your husband and your mum, and you know, the people close to you in limbo, almost thinking, please, God, let this be something else. It’s um, I bet that was hard going home. The kids probably kept you busy though, didn’t they?
Clair: [00:24:02] Yeah. And I think, um, we kind of felt like the doctor wouldn’t put his reputation on that. If it, do you know what I mean? He wouldn’t have suggested that or said, I think you have cancer. I don’t think he would have put his reputation or his, um, his livelihood on if he did. He wasn’t sure if he didn’t. I think he, I think he knew too well. He didn’t need the biopsy. I think he knew. And that’s why he was happy to say, I think you’ve got cancer. So we, we felt pretty assured that, you know, it was definitely cancer on that day.
Carla: [00:24:40] Were you glad in a way that he told you that then and there, or would you have just,
Clair: [00:24:45] Yeah, cause I think the waiting would have drove us potty. I think if I I’m, I am so glad that I asked that question because ours, we, we all do it and I’ve done it myself. We all, um, when somebody says to you, Oh, I’ve, I’ve got a lump here or a lump there, or I’ve got something going on. Or I think I might, and people, were all very good at going, Oh, it could be a cyst or it could be benign or it could be this, or it could be that. I think we would have had days of building up our hopes of it being something else. Whereas this way we just knew straight out of the gate, we knew what it was. Um, and there was no false hope or, or leading into what if’s.
Carla: [00:25:32] How did you then obviously you were with your mum and you headed home. I mean, was your husband away at the time or oh no during lockdown he was home. Wasn’t he?
Clair: [00:25:40] He was home with the babies yeah.
Carla: [00:25:42] How on earth did you tell him that, that’s what the doctor had said? I imagine that, that’s an awful conversation to have.
Clair: [00:25:51] Me and my husband. We’re very, very lucky. We’re very much in tune with each other. And we used to work together. We used to work together, live together and all this. We don’t work and live. We don’t work together now, but we we’ve always been super, super close. Um, well, me and my mum walked in and he was outside playing with the kids. So my mum walked outside to play with the kids. He came into the kitchen and he just looked at me and he burst out crying. I didn’t even have to say anything. He, he just, he knew and I wasn’t crying or anything. I think, I think he just, he could just see me and he, he knew what was going on. And I think to be honest with you, because they took the biopsy. And he knew that I think in his head it was already a done .
Carla: [00:26:42] Yeah. Yeah. So, so you got, is the results, did they phone you then to give you the results?
Clair: [00:26:49] No, we went back, uh, one week later. No, no, no. I’m telling a lie. So we had the results back two days later and they said, can you come in this afternoon? And they gave us the results face to face. And that’s when I, um, so then my mum and my husband swapped over. So my mum had the kids and my husband came in with us with me, sorry. And they, they told us there, and then.
Carla: [00:27:18] And did they put plans in place then to kind of see how bad it was or did they know that at that stage?
Clair: [00:27:26] I got tested on like the tests that you go through to find cancer elsewhere in your body is, uh, is intense to say the very least I had brain scans, bone scans, um, Scans from my head to my toe. I think I, so I had a pet scan, CT cat scan, and an MRI scan, um, a bone scan, another, um, so I had radiation pumped through my body as well. So they, I would glow up wherever the cancer was.
Carla: [00:28:05] God. Hmm.
Clair: [00:28:06] It was intense. I had so much blood taken so much stuff pumped in and then stuff taken out. But I just had to remember, I mean, it was tense and it was, it was really, um, horrible and tiring at the time. And the only thing that kept me going and, and, and not whinging, I didn’t, I didn’t. I don’t believe that I moaned once about it. I mean, in my head, I probably probably, if my husband if you asked him he probably said, yeah, you moaned all the way through, but in my head I didn’t moan at all. And, um, but I just thought, you know what, we just need to know where it is. Let’s just, let’s just get this done and find out where, where it all is so that they can treat me properly.
Carla: [00:28:50] Was this, did this take a while all these scans and everything, or was that pretty quick as well?
Clair: [00:28:56] Yeah, it, it did. Um, I had heart, heart, um, ultrasound. Well, it did take it. So I had a week sort of intensive scans and Mmm. Bloods and neurology. Um, and then two weeks prior to that, I had like one or two scans or a pet scan or so over like a three week period I had an intense amount of scans. And then I had another biopsy, which they had to go down through my throat to get to the cancer in my chest.
Carla: [00:29:33] Oh God.
Clair: [00:29:35] That was, uh, you’re awake having that done as well. You’re awake. You sat in the chair, which, um, but the people, the people that did it were amazing. I mean, they kept me nice and calm. They kept holding my hand. They numbed my throat so much that I couldn’t even feel to swallow. I mean, they were amazed. I didn’t know when they had taken the biopsy, even though I was awake. And because they were so good. I couldn’t, when they took the biopsy from my breast and under my arm, I could feel the tugging. Yeah, yeah. Taking part of the tumour, but down through my throat, I couldn’t feel that at all. So, um, they, they were, they were brilliant. So, I mean, I can’t fault anybody, any of the nurses or the doctors or the people that have spoken to me on the phones. I mean, they’ve all been amazing. Like. Absolutely. I mean, nothing’s too much trouble. They, they look after you, even if you have the silliest of questions, they they’re happy to answer them.
Carla: [00:30:48] I imagine. No, question’s a silly question when it comes to what you’ve had to go through.
Clair: [00:30:54] Oh no, the thing is, I always think that. Before this, I was always like, Oh yeah, we we’ve all been touched by cancer. Some, you know, through friends or family. And we all think that we know cancer and it’s not since. It’s only been since having cancer that I realised how much. Everybody who has cancer has to go through and all the like, so I have my chemo every three weeks. Yeah. So two days before my chemo, I have to have bloods taken to make sure that my blood white blood cell count is high enough for me to have it, because if it’s not high enough, I’m too weak to be able to have the chemo. Yeah. And it’s just little things like that. That. Like you don’t realize, like we all support it and make money to it. And, and, and whatnot be like for the people actually going through it. And the steps of going through cancer is, is something that I don’t feel like any of us really know what people go through.
Carla: [00:32:04] Yeah. It’s almost like it’ s bad enough just having cancer. And that is where it ends a lot of the time, oh that person’s got cancer and you don’t see everything that goes into actually having cancer and all the different stuff that you. That people have to go through. I think that’s,
Clair: [00:32:20] it’s like a full time job. Cause you have to like, make sure you get to your appointments and then you have to ring up for your bloods and you have to talk to your nurses and your oncology team. And it really is like a. Like we have like, um, we have a separate calendar on our wall now just, and it’s called our chemo calendar. It’s just for cancer appointments because they’re just so intense.
Carla: [00:32:49] Yeah. Oh yeah, of course. And then you’ve got the kids and I mean, with your cancer, when you got all your results back, then you obviously. You’re hoping that it’s curable and there’s something that they can do. So what, what happened when they told you that it wasn’t?
Clair: [00:33:09] Um, do you know what, we were um, we were sat on the sofa and it was after our first round of chemo and they just had the results back from the biopsy in my chest. And they said, um, I mean, it’s got to be a horrible conversation. It’s gotta be a horrible phone call for that doctor to make like, Oh, good. You know, I’m going to have to now tell this lady that her cancer is not curable. Mmm Hmm. Me and my husband were actually very chilled about the telephone call, where we sat on the sofa. And, um, she said, Claire, we, you know, I know you’re eager to find out what, what the results of your biopsy, um, in your chest was. And unfortunately, uh, you do have cancer in the lymph nodes of your chest wall. Which means that, uh, we can’t. We can’t make this cancer curable for you. It’s we, but we can treat it. And we have, she, she has a lady that she’s looking after at the moment that’s, you know, 10 years into treatment. So
Carla: [00:34:22] fantastic. Yeah, yeah. So you can live with it, but it’s just, you know, if you know, the treatment works and the chemo and everything goes, goes as it should, hopefully it should, you can live with it for awhile?
Clair: [00:34:36] So it, I mean, yes, but it all, see, like having a pregnancy, every single pregnancy is completely different. Um, Like, Oh my, I just thought after having my first son, like the other two would, the pregnancies would be exactly the same? Nooo. Mmm. With, cancer, no one person is got, we’re all in.,It’s all individual. It’s all kind of tailored for your body. Uh, your treatments are, your cancer is individual to you. Um, uh, so. It all depends on how my, how well my body responds to it, how aggressive the cancer is because cancer is very clever and it wises up to the drugs too. You kind of want your cancer to be as thick as it can. Yeah. So that it doesn’t, it doesn’t cotton on to the drugs. I mean, they, if, when one set of drugs don’t work, they’ll try you on another set of drugs. Um, I think the only, um, thing for me is two weeks before I got diagnosed with cancer, I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Um, which is my thyroid is under-active.
Carla: [00:36:02] Yeah. Yeah. I know under-active thyroid. I’ve heard of that before, but what does that mean?
Clair: [00:36:07] Um, so it, it’s not, it’s not a very pleasant thing to have believe it or not. It. Um, it makes you, you see your thyroid is in the front of your neck and it, um, kind of regulates everything in your body. Um, and it, when it shuts down, whereas if you’ve got hyperthyroidism, you its overactive. So you lose a lot of weight and you have to try and gain weight. Mines hypo, which means I put on a lot of weight and I’m very sluggish. It’s hard for me to wake up in the mornings. So I’ve already got my body battling itself. Yeah. Before the cancer, the, the thyroid is already there attacking my body. So I’m on, I’m on a pills for that every day. Um, and then I’m obviously on the chemo as well , so far, the chemo has shrunk the tumours in my breast, so
Carla: [00:37:12] fantastic.
Clair: [00:37:13] That’s amazing. Yeah. That’s really good. And that’s.
Carla: [00:37:16] Positive positive news, even though it shouldn’t be positive news, but it is because it is. That is great.
Clair: [00:37:24] Yeah. So we, we know that the chemo is working on me, it kicks me in the butt. I’m not gonna lie, but it is, it is working on me.
Carla: [00:37:34] Um, have, have you told your children Clair about the cancer or? I mean, they’re all very young, aren’t they? So how, how.
Clair: [00:37:43] They are super young. So Sebastian, Sebastian knows mummy has a lump in her breast. So when we went to the Primrose centre, you know, I was very vocal about, you know, I’m worried for the kids and, you know, I don’t want them to see me lose my hair, which I’ve already done. And, you know, after, um, your mastectomy, which I’m not having, because they don’t need to put my body through that strain. And so they gave us a book and it’s, it’s a lovely book and it’s called, “Mummy’s Got a Lump” and it’s a, it’s a, it’s really well worded book. Um, and it, I actually read it to like some of my friends to like explain to them what’s going on because it’s very well worded and very well it’s very informative at the same time.
[00:38:32] So, um, Sebastian knows, um, he doesn’t know the incurable part. Because we don’t want to scare him, but we, um, he knows, he knows mummy’s poorly. He’s come with me every time I’ve had my hair cut a little bit shorter. And now that it’s falling out, he likes to kiss me on my bald head. Oh, and Oh yeah, he’s super, super sweet. And he likes it. When I’ve had my round of chemo. He likes to get into bed and watch movies with me. So even though I’m, he just likes to hold my hand or put his hand on my shoulder and he’ll just watch a movie while I’ll sleep and stuff. Um, whereas my other two, they have, they, it’s just the way mummy looks to them. It’s, it’s no different for them, bless them, but we have. Uh, Sebastian us, um, who’s five, his school have been amazing and they have provided him with a counsellor that he sees once a week.
Carla: [00:39:37] That’s fantastic because, it’s just, just talking, isn’t it talking to someone or the other than family members? Um, I think, I think it helps. Doesn’t it. At least he’s talking everything through.
Clair: [00:39:50] Yeah, well, he, um, they, they kind of, they he’s only had one session so far, um, but he he’s been in and he thinks the lady’s fantastic and they kind of, she does it because he’s only five, he’s still only young. It’s all done through play. So she just, while they’re playing or reading or something, she’ll just ask him questions. See if he’s all right. If there’s anything he wants to talk about and ask about, you know, well, who lives at home with you and just like nice, simple things to lead him into anything. If he wants to talk about anything, it’s not a pressurised. You want to talk about your mummy being poorly. It’s more of a, more of an assessment and counselling type scenario.
Carla: [00:40:36] Yeah, no, that’s, that’s really good. Um, I think that’s with children. I think that’s probably the best way to get information out of them, whether they are struggling or not, isn’t it so.
Clair: [00:40:48] Yeah he’s quite, he’s quite well balanced as Sebastian. Yeah. So we’re, we’re lucky with him that way. And he’s, he’s very open. He’s like me, he’s a very open book, so he doesn’t store anything in if he needs to let it out. He kind of lets it out there and then, so. So we haven’t seen anything. Me and my husband, or even my mum, or, you know, relatives around us haven’t seen anything in him that so should suggest that this is affecting him, but we wanted to get on top of it rather than be underneath it.
Carla: [00:41:23] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I can imagine. So, so with, with everything that’s going on at the moment, so what, what’s the next steps for you with your chemo then?
Clair: [00:41:35] So this Friday will be my third out of six, uh, chemotherapies that I’m having, um, and then, then after that, I mean, they take you stage by stage in baby steps, if that makes sense. Yeah. So after they don’t try and read too far into the future, because they don’t know how. How your body is going to react to any of the drugs or, um, so that’s how it’s tailored to you. So it’s kind of in, in little chunks rather than this is your lifespan now, so yeah.
Carla: [00:42:13] Yeah. So it can just change at any point, like something that would be working well and then it’s carry on or something you might just need adjusting.
Clair: [00:42:21] Yeah. Yeah. So after the six. The six time of chemotherapy, I think go for all the lovely scans again, to make sure. And just to see if where the hotspots are or if they’ve doled down. Um, and how big the, uh, masses in my breast. Yes. And then take it from there then.
Carla: [00:42:48] Yeah. Yeah. So, so how are you spending your time? Are you spending it any differently? I mean, is your, husband’s still having to work away or have you changed that now? Are you doing anything a bit different with, with the family on weekends and stuff like that? Or is it all still?
Clair: [00:43:06] No, no its actually, I’m kind of probably not the right thing to say, but it’s kind of been a silver lining as in my husband being home, which has been amazing because me and the kids love having him home. Um, and, um, my, uh, I’ve got an amazing family, but as you all grow up as families, you will drift apart and have your own little families and, and concentrate on yourselves. And this is kind of brought us all back together. So. Right. Since, since we found out or I’ve had cancer, we’ve been in had, um, a family photograph shoot altogether. Um, we’ve uh, what else have we done? Oh God, I’m trying to think. Now we did s’mores in my back garden two weeks ago, so we will came round and, um, we’ll have, uh, made s’mores on the open fire. Um, I’m trying to think what else we’ve done. That we’ve had a barbecue and it’s not just being like Nan and granddad, and us, or my sister or somebody coming in, it’s literally being all of my aunts, uncles and cousins. Yeah, it’s been super nice and we’re, um, we live really close to a beach. So on Sunday we took my little boy surfing and my little girl’s swimming. And, and I think the thing is, is when you live near the beach, you kind of take it for granted and you don’t visit that often. But now we’re like we’re making, instead of just sitting and watching TV and we’re too tired, we’re like, no, let’s get up. Let’s get on.
Carla: [00:44:49] I imagine you kind of actually take normally, I mean, we all do it. We take every day for granted, don’t we? And then when something like this happens, you probably realize how beautiful this whole world is. And you look at probably things a bit differently and be like, wow, it’s a beautiful day today. Let’s get out and let’s do something let’s you, you know, make the most of today.
Clair: [00:45:11] Do you know what I, I actually, um, Even if it’s raining or gorgeous sunshine or it’s a bit of a chilly a day, I always make sure that I take a moment to go outside and breathe in fresh air.
Carla: [00:45:25] Yeah, that sounds beautiful.
Clair: [00:45:27] Yeah. Which is, I think none of our I’d never did that before. I really did. And I didn’t and sometimes simple things like just taking a second to breathe in the fresh air and just clear your mind and just have a sec, even if it’s like 10 seconds of just inhaling
Carla: [00:45:45] It’s just mindfulness, isn’t it just taking in the moment, this moment in time now at this moment in time, you all, you know, yes, you’ve got cancer, but you’re well, you’re able to do things. You’re able to enjoy things and just living in that moment isn’t it?
Clair: [00:46:01] I could still have my kids today. That’s the, that’s the, um, the main thing to me is just every day I wake up and I think it doesn’t, uh, to be honest with you today, I’ve not been so great, but I get up and I, I do it because I can., you know, I mean, like I can do it and. Sometimes before, before I found out I had cancer, like if I was having like, you know, like we all do, we have sluggish days and we feel a bit and I wake up and I don’t want to be a mummy today. Yeah.
Carla: [00:46:35] Yes. I get those a lot.
Clair: [00:46:39] Whereas now I’m like, Oh God, I just want to be a mummy.
Carla: [00:46:45] I know. I can imagine. It’s just take, we just take everything for granted. Don’t we, when we’re well, and, and yeah, it’s just, yeah, that must be really difficult. I mean, so, so at the moment, have you got any other plans that you’re, you’re doing at the moment? I know your niece, Amy, she set up a bit of a fund raising, um, charity thing for you has sh?
Clair: [00:47:09] Yeah, so a go fund me page. She wanted to do, um, she wanted to do something to me, uh, to feel like she was, cause everybody feels helpless and that it is, um, it’s something that she felt like she could do and do well. Um, And to be helpful to us. So she set up a go fund me page, and now that’s being overwhelming. I mean, the people, the people that have donated money for us to make memories with the kids has been, um, I mean, we couldn’t, we couldn’t have predicted it. I mean, it’s been, it’s been so lovely in the loving messages and. And, uh, private messages of how, are stories in America as well. So I’ve had lots of people from America, um, contact me and it’s just been amazing really. And, um, we were at the minute we’re, um, we’re needing a little bit of time. So we were using, uh, some of the money for, um, Elliot and Olivia to go to nursery because they don’t. We don’t get to take them out much, what was me being ill at the time. So, um, and plus it gives us a little bit of rest, especially for after cancer for them. They’re only going in the morning and it’s only three days a week.
Carla: [00:48:38] Just need to, yeah, you must be shattered though. You must need the it’s mentally draining as well as it, you know, emotionally and mentally draining and your body will be tired.
Clair: [00:48:50] Yeah. Um, so we, um, so we’re using a bit of the money for that, and we’re gonna say, save back some of the money for one, after all this coronavirus, craziness has gone, um, to do, um, you know, like we really want to do winter Wonderland in London, and we want to take Sebastian to the, um, history museum in London and, you know, get, uh, go to, um, Oh God, I can’t. Honey. What’s the name of the where we want to go see Santa. Lapland oh yes.
Carla: [00:49:27] Oh yes. I’ve heard amazing things about that. It’s meant to be fantastic. Yeah. I mean, that’s the problem with this lockdown and everything at the moment. It’s like you daren’t even book anything at the moment.
Clair: [00:49:39] No. So we’re just at the minute we’re trying to, we’re trying to do everything that we can do. And obviously I have to shield it to a certain extent because, um, It, even if I got a chest infection that would, that would knock me out and put me in hospital. So I have to, I have to be careful about how much I do.
Carla: [00:49:58] Oh, yeah. I didn’t even think about that, but you’d be classified as vulnerable. Wouldn’t you really?
Clair: [00:50:03] Yeah. Yeah. I am. I am classed as vulnerable. So I can’t even do the school run, you know, beforehand I would have been like yes! And now I’m like oh I just want to do the school run. Um, but yeah, so. We were just so at the minute, it’s more just like family time and doing simple things like having a picnic or feeding the ducks or, and it, we could have done all those things before, but sometimes you get so caught up in school, work, bath, bed, dinner. And then you zone count yourself. Like you get so caught up in your own routines that you forget, you know what? We could have spend half an hour just to go for a walk around the block.
Carla: [00:50:50] Yeah, exactly. I mean, we all do it, don’t we said it’s easier just to put the TV on when you’re not feeling in the mood or give an iPad, you know, um, but yeah, I know what you mean. It’s just me making every day you’re just doing something nicely as a family. Um, so, so did you, did you work before then? I’m guessing, guessing you’re not working at the moment, but did you work before? Or were you looking after the children?
Clair: [00:51:19] No. So yeah, I did work. So I’ve been on maternity leave cause Elliot’s only eight months. So, um, yeah, I, I, I do work. Um, I work as a delivery driver for car parts, carriages.
Carla: [00:51:33] Wow.
Clair: [00:51:34] Yeah. It’s very fun. Fun job, because you get a lot of banter from all the mechanics.
Carla: [00:51:41] Yeah. Were you due to go back there then Clair?
Clair: [00:51:46] So when my maternity, uh, finishes, I then go on sick leave. So, um, um, I would hope to go back. Um, it just depends on how things pan out after the chemotherapy, because I can’t go, I can’t work when I’m doing chemotherapy, but, well, it’s a, it’s a, we will see type scenario, but I’m very lucky the company I work for have been amazing. So yeah, I’ve been very lucky there and, and same goes to my husband. Like his company has been amazing as well. They’ve, they’ve allowed him to, uh, you know, take hours here and there to drop me to appointments and stuff like that, which they don’t have to do. And they’ve been good with his time and, and he he’s equally just being, I mean, he’s sat here in front of me now and he’s mailing away just to, um, catch up on it. So I’m very lucky with work wise, but yeah, hoping to go back. I always feel like even though all of us hate working, I always think it’s good for the soul. Good for the mind, because it keeps you in it instead of just. You know, I get very obsessive about the kids and what they do and, and all the craziness of it. So sometimes going to work helps balance me out and makes me remember. Oh yeah, my name’s Clair and I’m a human being before I was a mother.
Carla: [00:53:19] Yeah. Yes. I’m with you there. You can sometimes easily lose your identity can’t you?
Clair: [00:53:25] Oh yeah. Yeah.
Carla: [00:53:26] I mean, I, I mean, during lockdown, it’s, it’s difficult being at home with the children. I imagine for you with more children, but just at the time, I was like, Oh my gosh, this is just such a big change. It really is, but yeah, hopefully you can go back to work. So once everything, hopefully everything will all go as, as we all hope and, and you’ll be able to go back to work soon. So, so that would be good. So Clair, is there any messages like you want to put out there to mums or mums who are very busy, anything you want to share, um, to, to them during this podcast?
Clair: [00:54:07] Um, I think my, um, main messages is, um, because this was me. I thought I was too busy to check in on myself. Okay. The thing is, is because I thought, and it was a thought, it’s not reality. It was a thought I was too busy to check in on myself. Now my kids face a future without their children. That is some things that I wish I had not put to one side. And I wish that I realised my own importance in my bubble, in my world, in my home. I am important. And I think all mums need to realize you are important. You need to take that minute, even if it’s sat on the toilet while you have in a wee. Have a check with yourself. Just check in and make it, if you, if it’s taken a second to put your hand inside your bra and have a fumble or around your neck, or just close your eyes and just tick off everywhere. Every part of your body. Just to make sure. Is it something I’ve been putting off, going to the doctors about, because it might be nothing, but it could be something. And do you, I want to take that risk with your own life and with your children’s life.
Carla: [00:55:38] Yeah. Yeah. That is it. That is a really important message and Claire, thank you so much for coming on today. And what we’ll do is we’ll put the go fund me link in this podcast as well. So if anyone wants to donate, um, you know, to help help with Clair raising, you know, doing, making a lot of lovely memories, please do click the link. And Clair, thank you so, so much for sharing your story today.
Clair: [00:56:06] Oh, well, thank you for having me. It’s been lovely talking to you.
Carla: [00:56:10] I was a little nervous. I was a little nervous speaking to you because it’s not a subject that anyone really wants to talk about some thing so, you know, it’s just so sad, but hopefully everything, like we said, we’ll just, all the chemo will all go okay. And, and, you know, you’ve got a long time left on this earth. That’s, that’s what we want.
Clair: [00:56:31] Yeah. I like I’ve said before it, do you know what I my, at the minute I was still taking baby steps, but my main goal is I really, really want to get to see my youngest, my eight months old go to school for the first day. That’s that would make me very happy if I can get, if I can get to that stage.
Carla: [00:56:53] Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Um, so Clair, thank you so so much. Um, I really appreciate you coming on, so thank you.
Clair: [00:57:02] . Thank you too.
Carla: [00:57:05] Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of 50 Shades of Motherhood. My aim is to support free chat around motherhood’s uncensored, unhinged and unapologetic mum chat. If you like this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe and tell all your friends about it. The more listeners we get, the more subscribers we get, the more chance we’ve got of getting series three down. So I look forward to speaking to you next time and keep your eyes peeled on our social pages to find out who our next guest is I’m sure you will love it.