Dalkeith mum Claire-Ann Thomson says breast cancer battle 'made me stronger'
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When Claire-Ann Thomson was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34, life as she knew it changed forever. Her dream of becoming a mum hung in the balance and she found herself fighting for a life she desperately wanted to keep living.
She was dealt another cruel blow just a few years later, when her mum Carol Ann was told she had terminal pancreatic cancer – a disease which claimed the 69-year-old’s life just weeks later.
The months to follow were among the hardest of Claire-Ann’s life but they also brought with them the greatest blessing, with the IT expert having learned she was pregnant with her first child. Her daughter Camryn, now three, was born on September 21, 2019.
“My mum was the most precious person in my life until I had my own daughter,” she said. “The bench which my mum loved is now in my garden. I think and talk about my mum every single day. I feel sad that mum didn’t have the chance to meet Camryn. But I can see so much of my mum in her. I see it in Camryn’s determination, her resilience, her cheeky nature even. I always believe mum brought my daughter to me as she reminds me of her so much.”
With her dream of being a mum having come true, Claire-Ann, now 43, has been reflecting on the days after she discovered that carrying a child might not have been on the cards for her. She said: “I simply couldn’t imagine what life would be like after cancer. The word cancer changed everything. I can still remember what it felt like in that room in the Western General Hospital when the doctor first confirmed that I had cancer.
“I didn’t have children then but knew in my heart I’d always wanted one day to have my own family. I felt scared that cancer would take these dreams away from me as there was a risk the chemotherapy treatment could leave me infertile. I didn’t cry but instead asked how they were going to get rid of the tumour. I had so much more life to live. Now when I look back I can see that cancer made me a stronger person.”
Claire-Ann, who lives in Dalkeith, went through fertility treatment before starting chemotherapy and two years after treatment, she met her now-husband Garry, whom she married on April 21, 2018. Less than a year later, she was pregnant.
Claire-Ann is now fronting the Cancer Research UK campaign ‘Together We Are Beating Cancer’ campaign to help support other families affected by the illness.
“Thanks to life-saving treatment I’m able to live my life to the full, be the best mum I can be to my daughter Camryn and make memories with my family for a long time to come. Now I want to do everything I can to support so families have more time together,” she said.
The Cancer Research UK campaign features billboards and posters on display across the UK showing heartwarming moments that research is making possible for people affected by cancer right now.