Devastating blow for new mum, 28, battling Covid and sepsis

·5-min read

A 28-year-old woman has given birth to her baby daughter while battling through sepsis, Covid — and unbeknown to her at the time — breast cancer.

Keisha Chadwick, a student nurse, had planned to go back to school and finish the final year of her course just three weeks after giving birth.

But everything changed when she was handed a breast cancer diagnosis when her daughter Milana was just seven weeks old.

Keisha, from Manchester, UK, told the Manchester Evening News that she first found a lump on her breast when she was about seven to eight months pregnant - but at no point did she think it could be cancerous.

"I never check my breasts so to find this lump was a real shock, but I thought it was something to do with the baby," she said.

But after she had given birth she released that the lump had become much bigger.

She went to her doctor and he told her that it was probably something to do with her milk but that she should go for a scan to make sure.

28-year-old Keisha Chadwick
Keisha Chadwick found out she had breast cancer after battling sepsis and Covid. Source: Australscope

When she went for her ultrasound staff commented on how small the lump was. But to know for sure, the mum was sent for a biopsy.

She had to wait two weeks for the result.

"I was just getting on with my life - I was so convinced it was something to do with milk," Keisha said.

When it was time to go to hospital to find out the results, she went in alone.

She didn't think she'd be needing the support of family and friends.

But it was cancer.

"I didn't believe it at first. I never even considered that it could be cancer. I wasn't prepared to hear bad news because I was so adamant that it wasn't," she said.

Mum tests positive for Covid after giving birth

Keisha is in part grateful that she was able to spend seven weeks bonding with her daughter before she found out about her diagnosis.

But the birth in itself wasn't smooth sailing as she battled through not only sepsis but also coronavirus.

Sepsis was flagged by medical staff as Keisha was in labour and she actually had to hold off pushing to receive treatment.

It wasn't known that she had Covid until after she had given birth.

Despite testing negative before entering the hospital, Keisha started to feel unwell, and in her words — like she had Covid.

The test came back positive and this meant that she had to go into isolation alone with her newborn baby.

"I was paranoid that I'd give it to my baby," Keisha said.

Protective over her first child, she wore a face mask at all times.

But this wasn't the only issue she faced — she had no one around her to teach her how to care for her newborn.

"It was supposed to be the happiest moment of my life. I had no one with me. No visitors. No one around to help me with my baby," she said.

"And then when I got home I found out that I had cancer."

Student nurse puts off placement for treatment

Keisha now isn't able to complete her final nursing placement because it'll clash with chemotherapy.

This means she won't be able to graduate this year and will have to delay starting the job she's got lined up on a vascular ward.

The mum is also having to start the process of getting her eggs frozen while awaiting chemotherapy.

She'll miss out on doing things with her daughter too, like taking her swimming for the first time or going to a play centre because of the high risk of infection.

"So much happened so quickly. It's just something I have got to deal with," Keisha said.

As a way of getting through her treatment, Keisha is documenting her journey, hospital appointment by hospital appointment.

"It'll be nice when I can look back at it all and how far I've come," she said.

But Keisha isn't alone.

In fact, her close friends have organised a sponsored walk to and from The Christie hospital to raise money to support her.

The money will fund a quality wig as well as support her in everyday life as she'll be left with no source of income.

Keisha Chadwick with her newborn daughter.
Keisha Chadwick tested positive for Covid-19 after giving birth. Source: Australscope

If more money is raised, then it will go towards breast surgery in the far future to help restore her confidence.

Keisha plans to have her breast removed in the hope to recover more quickly and to be able to spend more quality time with her baby girl.

"Their support is huge to me," Keisha said.

"For a young girl, the thought of going bald is awful. For them to do things just to make me feel better about myself and to make me more confident... I didn't expect it all."

Keisha's close friend of over 10 years, Aimee Pritchard, set up the fundraiser online.

She told the M.E.N. that Keisha is one of the strongest people she knows.

"It's just a shame she won't be able to finish the course. It's something she really wanted to do to help other people because that's the short of person she is."

Aimee said she was "completely shocked" when she found out that Keisha had cancer.

They were pregnant at the same time, and with their babies being born just two weeks apart, they expected to do everything together.

"We're not going to be able to attend some things together now. It's just really sad," she said.

"We've told Keisha that she needs to stay strong so Milana can see how strong her mum is."

– Australscope

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