A mum-of-three has revealed how she had to make the heartbreaking decision to terminate her fourth pregnancy when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Laura Richards told the Birmingham Mail that she assumed there was nothing to worry when she first discovered the small lump in her breast in February last year. Having undergone breast reduction surgery, she assumed it was scar tissue.
The following August, she discovered she was pregnant, and just a few weeks later was horrified to find the lump had grown to the size of a satsuma, prompting her to seek medical advice.
"As soon as I got pregnant it started growing so I went to get it checked out," Laura, said. "That's when they told me that I had cancer."
"The doctors said I could carry on with the pregnancy – and there would be an extremely high risk I wouldn't survive because it was so aggressive – or I could terminate the pregnancy and fight it."
Laura, now 32, she said she was absolutely devastated at the news, but decided that as she had three children who needed her, she would terminate the pregnancy rather than 'leave four behind'.
It was a particularly painful decision as it was her first baby with her new partner Dan Ivers.
"It was harder than being told I had cancer," the brave mum said. "I could fight cancer but I felt I had no choice over the termination. It was the most awful thing I have ever gone through."
After the termination, Laura began 15 weeks of chemotherapy, and despite initially feeling so ill she had to stay with her mum, she decided to try and get back to normal, caring for her children, Autumn Rose, three, Ellie Mae, 20 months, and Nathaniel, six.
She also returned to her fitness classes, determined not to let the cancer beat her.
"I wasn't going to let stop me doing the things I enjoy," she told the paper. "I did get dizzy a few times at class and had to sit down. But I wanted to show that I could still carry on."
Laura was then faced with a further agonising decision as to whether to have a mastectomy.
"Everyone says 'You're young, why do you want to get rid of your breast?',"she said. "I thought you can make a new breast, but you can't make a new mum for my children. As soon as I had it removed the fear of cancer wasn't there as much."
"If I'd only had the lump removed I would have been constantly worrying that it would come back."
Laura now faces five years of medication and mammograms every 18 months to make sure the cancer has not returned.
Once her treatment is over, she will find out if she can have more children.
Meanwhile, she is supporting Cancer Research UK by taking part in the Race for Life later this month.
"I couldn't run last year because I was pregnant, but this year there was no way I was going to be stopped," she said. "I told my friends that no matter whether I'd just had surgery or not, I would be there. I'm determined to complete it whether I have to run, walk or crawl."