Erin is a wife, a mum to four year old Laila, and gave birth to her son in May 2016 while diagnosed with breast cancer. Still undergoing treatment to beat the cancer, she just wants more time with her family.
Erin was 13 weeks into a welcomed second pregnancy when she woke up one morning with a swollen armpit. She visited her doctor the next day and was sent for an ultrasound, then a biopsy on the spot.
“Two days later my doctor rang me and said come into the surgery. He said to bring my husband with me and that’s when I knew it was serious. I had talked myself into the idea that it was just an infection and even the doctors said they would be surprised if it was anything serious.”
Unfortunately Erin was diagnosed with triple negative cancer in her right breast. A one centimetre tumour had spread into three lymph nodes.
“I didn’t think I had heard it correctly and I burst into tears and sobbed uncontrollably. And then I just thought, wait did the doctor say it was or wasn’t breast cancer? The doctor was holding my hand and trying to calm me down so I said ‘I think she said it is.’ Obviously we were shattered. I was very, very frightened and I didn’t know if we could even keep the baby.”
Erin had surgery to remove her right breast and lymph nodes, and then chemotherapy.
“I was lucky it was picked up quite early as it was quite aggressive. Because it’s triple negative breast cancer I was actually able to have all the chemotherapy I needed. If it had been HER2-positive breast cancer I wouldn’t have been able to keep the pregnancy.”
Although the doctors didn’t need to change any of Erin’s treatment plan, it still took its toll on Erin making her sick and exhausted.
“I was already tired from the pregnancy and treatment, but I also had an active toddler in Laila who remained her usual bouncy self. She was too young to understand what was happening and that I was sick and needed to rest.”
Erin completed her chemotherapy treatment three weeks before she was due to give birth.
“Because of the pregnancy, I wasn’t able to have any scans to see if the cancer had spread to any other parts of my body. At the start they said they could make no promises about my baby’s health or my own, but once they did the surgery they were pretty confident they had got all the cancer out, but I still wasn’t sure.”
On 3 May 2016, Harlyn Osborne arrived into the world.
“Harlyn had a bit of a rough start and spent his first few days in the NICU. I also struggled after the birth and ended up being sick with low blood pressure and some blood clots.”
The family of four is now home and settling into life while Erin commences five weeks of intensive radiotherapy.
“Today I just have to have hope. I want to be here for all my children’s birthdays, and have them celebrate mine with me. But I’m being realistic too so I’ve started a book of memories for Laila, with a message for her for each birthday, and I’ll do one for my son too.”
Erin is staying positive and taking the opportunity to make the most of every day she has with her husband and children.
“Before I was diagnosed, when Laila wanted my attention, I’d often ask her to wait until I’d finished what I was doing. Now, I take advantage of every opportunity, and give her my full attention. I’ve become acutely aware that if I miss those chances, I might never get them again.”
Erin is encouraging people to consider a donation to Cancer Council NSW to help support cancer research, prevention, advocacy and support programs.
“My greatest fear is that I will not be alive to see my children grow up.”
Learn more about Cancer Council NSW’s support services.