A MUM has received support from Sarah Harding after she was told her breast cancer was terminal – one week after being given the all-clear.
Leasa Clark, 41, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer after discovering a 7cm lump in her left breast in May 2019.
The recruitment consultant, from Birmingham, West Mids, had several rounds of treatment along with surgery to remove her lymph nodes and the lump.
She was given the all clear in June, but sadly an MRI confirmed revealed the cancer had spread to her spine and it is now terminal.
After Harding, 38, told fans she was battling advanced breast cancer earlier this week, Leasa decided to reach out to the Girls Aloud star on Instagram.
The mum-of-one said: “As soon as I found out about Sarah, I messaged her on Instagram.
“I wanted to tell her that I understand what she is going through as it is important for people with cancer to know they are not alone.
“It must be a lot more difficult for her as she is in the limelight.
“It is so sad and horrible – I completely sympathise with her as we are in a similar situation.
"We have both been diagnosed with breast cancer and similar to Sarah, mine has also spread.
“She sent me a love heart back so I am glad to see she read my message.”
She [Harding] sent me a love heart back so I am glad to see she read my message
Leasa had seven rounds of gruelling chemotherapy and 20 rounds of radiotherapy to treat her breast cancer.
She said: "As this cancer is so rare, the treatment is intense – it has even left me black and blue.
"I was unable to finish chemotherapy as I had caught sepsis so I was too weak and kept in isolation for a while.
What is breast cancer and how does it spread?
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK – with one woman diagnosed every ten minutes.
While most women can get breast cancer, it is most common in women who are over the age of 50.
According to Cancer Research UK, breast cancer starts in the breast tissue.
Breast cancer develops when abnormal cells in the breast begin to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way and eventually form a growth.
Most invasive breast cancers are found in the upper-outer quadrant of the breast.
If it’s not diagnosed and treated it can move through the lymph or blood vessels to other areas of the body.
Each year in the UK there are around 55,200 new breast cancer cases.
This equates to around 150 new cases a day.
It also accounts for 15 per cent of all new cancer cases each year.
If the cancer is diagnosed at its earliest stage then 98 per cent of people will survive the disease for five years or more.
If it is diagnosed at the latest stage, then just 26 per cent of people survive for five years or more.
What are the four stages of breast cancer?
Stage one: The cancer is small and only in the breast tissue – but can also be found in lymph nodes close to the breast.
Stage two: The cancer is either in the breast or in the nearby lymph nodes or both.
Stage three: The cancer has spread from the breast to the lymph nodes or the skin of the breast or the chest wall.
Stage four: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
What are the signs?
- A lump in the breast or armpit
- Changes in the positioning of the nipple
- Nipples leaking in women who have not had children
- Skin changes
"But doctors were happy that the lump had shrunk in January so they removed it.
"Along with my lymph nodes underneath my arm as the cancer had spread there too."
Despite taking a tablet form of chemotherapy which is a preventative to stop the cancer from recurring.
Leasa has been told she has three to 18 months to live but she refuses to give up and has since been looking for trials abroad.
The NHS can only offer her chemotherapy and radiotherapy to manage the excruciating back pain that often leaves her unable to walk.
Leasa is fundraising for trials so she can ‘up and go’ when something suitable for her is discovered.
She said: “I was reluctant when my friend Victoria Breheny-Smith proposed the idea of a fundraiser.
"But I have to for my son Max, six and supportive husband Phil, 43.
“Being with them for as long as I can is the most important thing.
“Max was so happy when I told him ‘mummy is going to be strong again’ after I was given the all clear.
“My family and I were drinking champagne to celebrate being breast cancer free.”
Leasa had suffered with back pain since January and a shadow was discovered on two CAT scans.
Medics dismissed it as arthritis until an MRI confirmed the cancer had spread and she was diagnosed with stage four cancer.
She said: “I am absolutely devastated, hurt and angry.
“I wish it had been diagnosed sooner – maybe something could have been done sooner.
“They can’t operate on my spine in case something goes wrong and I end up disabled.
“But I would rather be disabled than dead.”
I am absolutely devastated, hurt and angry
Leasa is currently staying at a Marie Carie hospice in Solihull, West Mids.
The acute pain means she is on 12 different painkillers including morphine and diazepam.
She said: “Some days, I cannot get out of bed and need help as the pain is so bad.
“A flare up is like having the final contractions when during labor. My whole of my body contracts with pain and shakes.
“The cancer has made me determined to find a cure – there has got to be something out there that can help me.
“I refuse to give up hope.
“Somewhere out there in the world, someone is doing something that can prolong my life for as long as possible.
“Max and I are very close and he is my reason to keep on going.”
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