A mum who suffered crippling stomach pains just weeks after giving birth was horrified to discover she had the deadliest form of cancer .
Amy Blackrock, 28, was terrified for her two young children’s futures after falling ill with pancreatic cancer – which kills four in five sufferers within a year.
She was diagnosed just weeks after giving birth to her second daughter Annabelle in January last year, and needed chemotherapy and two life-saving operations.
But one year on she is now in recovery, and shared her story to raise awareness of a cancer
Ms Blackrock, from Kirkby, said: “I was feeding Annabelle at 5am in the morning, and was vomiting with really bad pains in my abdomen – worse than childbirth.
“I couldn’t breathe and they put me on morphine in intensive care in hospital.
“I had the illness again five weeks later, and my skin started turning yellow with jaundice.
“They thought a growth on my pancreas was a cyst but it turned out to be a cancerous tumour seven centimetres long and five centimetres wide.
“I had a sense it might be cancer, but I felt like my whole world would fell apart when I found out.
“I kept looking at my children, thinking – am I going to be here to see them grow up?
“Nothing matters apart from getting through it, you start only caring about your kids, family and life.
“I saw the diagnosis on the notes the doctor had left by my bed before they came in to tell me. There’s no good way to find out, but that wasn’t the best way to hear it.”
Amy, who also has son Jack, said she felt lucky to have survived “the worst form of cancer you can get”, with the lack of symptoms in its early stages making it a hard disease to diagnose until it is often too late.
She told the Liverpool Echo : “I’m a bit of a freak case. I’m the oldest by about 30 years at my clinic, and they think I’m one of the youngest in the world.
“It’s really bizarre to face your mortality at 28. But I was lucky it hadn’t spread despite its size.
“My kids are the reason I could keep going, and my partner, who has given up work for now to look after me.”
Her partner Anthony Seddon, 31, proposed to Amy just before her operation, saying he wanted to her to go in knowing she would come out and get married.
The journalist and PR professional admitted: “I was absolutely delighted – but I thought he was joking at first.”
The surgery to remove the tumour saw Amy left with only half her pancreas and with no gall bladder.
She suffered a “life-threatening bleed” shortly afterwards at home when an artery burst, but pulled through and praised pancreatic specialists at the Royal.
She added: “The operation was completely successful, and I’m now in remission, and currently cancer-free.
“At the moment I can’t digest food as well as other people – so I have to take tablets every time I eat. I lost about three-and-a-half stone from the damage to the tumour and chemo, but I’ve but some back on.
“I wore a wig though, as it was my safety blanket.
“I still have some chemotherapy – one last burst. I lost a lot of my hair from the treatment, and it came back really thick and curly. I look like a ketwig .
“But I’m hoping to go back to work soon, and I’m getting back to normal.”
The causes of pancreatic cancer are not widely understood, but illnesses like pancreatitis, diabetes and stomach ulcers can increase the risk.
It mainly affects people older than 50, and one in three cases is linked to smoking.
Symptoms include pain in the stomach or back area which may come and go, unexpected weight loss, jaundice, bowel changes, fever, indigestion and blood clots.
But NHS chiefs say these symptoms can be caused by many different conditions, and suggest contacting your GP if concerned or the symptoms start suddenly.
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the UK, according to Cancer Research UK.