KeepHealthCare.ORG – Victoria woman diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant at age 29
Liana Purser was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer just one week after hearing her baby’s heartbeat for the first time.
As a fit and healthy young woman with no risk factors or genetic history of the disease, the 29-year-old’s world was turned upside down as she faced the reality of undergoing chemotherapy while pregnant.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Ms Purser, from Victoria, shared her experience of battling cancer while preparing to become a mother.
Liana Purser was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at just 29 years of age
Ms Purser shortly before her diagnosis in July 2017; she lived a healthy, almost wholly organic lifestyle and ran marathons to keep fit
What is a fibroadenoma?
A fibroadenoma is a very common benign (not cancer) breast condition.
The most common symptom is a lump in the breast which usually moves when you touch it.
They often develop during puberty so are mostly found in young women, but they can occur in women of any age.
‘I’ve had a benign breast lump called a fibroadenoma since my late teens,’ she told FEMAIL.
A common occurrence in women, fibroadenomas do not put you at any increased risk of breast cancer and are usually left untreated.
‘When I discovered I was pregnant, I decided to get the lump checked again and this time my ultrasound came back abnormal.’
After further testing, Ms Purser was told she had Triple Negative Breast Cancer, a particularly rare and aggressive form of the disease that can be difficult to treat.
Ms Purser and her husband Todd were overjoyed to discover she was pregnant after suffering a devastating miscarriage in early 2017
Fighting cancer and preparing to become a mother: Ms Purser underwent chemotherapy while pregnant, treatment which has no impact on foetal development after the first trimester
Stunned by her diagnosis, Ms Purser could not believe she had breast cancer having lived a healthy, mostly organic life up to then and had even run marathons.
Cancer does not discriminate.
‘I was very fortunate to be under the guidance of an incredible medical team throughout my treatment,’ she said.
Ms Pursers’ team of physicians developed a care plan which saw her undergo surgery to remove the cancerous growth in her breast and lymph nodes.
‘When I reached 15 weeks (during the second trimester) I could safely proceed with chemotherapy,’ she told charity organisation Pink Hope.
‘By this stage of gestation the placental barrier protects the foetus from the toxic effects of chemo drugs which included the treatments that I required.’
Ms Purser pictured on her Instagram getting ready for her baby shower at 20 weeks pregnant while being treated with chemotherapy
The reality of being treated for cancer during the early stages of pregnancy was difficult for the Geelong-resident, who initially struggled to agree to chemo but consented when she realised it was the best chance for her and her baby.
It was an especially heartrending decision as Ms Purser and her husband Todd had suffered a miscarriage of their first pregnancy earlier that year.
‘Accepting that I would be having chemotherapy whilst pregnant was an extremely challenging concept to get my head around. I decided to put my faith in God and my wonderful medical team, and always kept my focus on keeping our baby healthy.’
‘It was surreal, I had thought about this moment for so long & finally it was happening’ she said (a recent picture of Ms Purser with her daughter Rose)
Ms Purser and her husband Todd were overjoyed when they welcomed a healthy, bouncy baby girl called Rose in February 2018
Ms Purser’s hope was fulfilled when her daughter Rose was born perfectly healthy in February of this year.
‘Holding Rose for the first time I was overwhelmed with relief, love and happiness. It was surreal, I had thought about this moment for so long & finally it was happening,’ she remembered.
‘She had a full head of hair, more than I did!’
Asked about the message she would like to send to young women about cancer screening, Ms Purser urged females of all ages to never be complacent.
‘Breast cancer does not discriminate. It can affect young, healthy women without the genetic gene for the disease.
‘My advice would be to self-perform monthly breast examinations and to always have any concerns checked by a professional.’