Hours after giving birth to her daughter, Karyn Love sat digesting the news that she was about to be wheeled from the maternity ward, to the palliative care ward.
Billi had arrived via an emergency C-section at 29 weeks, because of what doctors originally assumed were pregnancy complications.
Doctors went on to diagnose the new mum with Stage 4 metastatic hormone sensitive breast cancer that had spread to her bones and liver.
As Metro North Hospital explained to Mamamia, “Hormonal changes during pregnancy can influence the course of hormone-sensitive breast cancer, causing it to develop and spread, as Ms Love’s disease did.”
As her daughter was whisked away to NICU, Karyn was told she had three weeks to live.
“I wasn’t given a lot of hope, said Karyn. “A few days after [I gave birth] I was being prepared for end of life.”
Faced with the impossible reality that she might never take baby Billi home, let alone see her grow up, the 38-year-old opted for the less invasive option offered to her by her treating team; hormone blockers and oral chemotherapy.
Once Karyn and Billi were finally allowed home together two months later, there were new challenges. Billi’s father had left when he found out about the pregnancy, and with the majority of Karyn’s family living across the country, she was forced to deal with new motherhood and terminal cancer on her own.
Karyn received a phone call from her doctor on her birthday in August 2021, three months after giving birth and receiving her diagnosis. Karyn’s cancer was said to be mending.
“I had a call from my oncologist and she is astounded at how far I’ve come with my healing journey. She said, ‘do you want to have a good birthday present?’ I said ‘I’m ready’,”
“I am celebrating this amazing, amazing, amazing day. It’s the most perfect birthday present of all.”
“Ms Love has responded to treatment and will continue her current treatment indefinitely, or until it ceases to work. She’s recovered to the point that she can look after herself and her baby, despite the physical, psychological, and emotional stresses that come with a cancer diagnosis.” the hospital told Mamamia.
Karyn is still in a lot of pain. She has good and bad days, but she says none of that matters because she’s “grounded in love.”
She has Billi, and together they’re taking it day by day.