Woman stressed about mum's cancer diagnosis makes tragic discovery

'I thought I was stressed about mum's cancer diagnosis – then doctors found my tumour'.

A single mum has shared how what she believed was “stress” over her mum’s leukaemia diagnosis turned out to be a symptom of a dangerous tumour.

When Kimberley Findeis-Sparkes was told she had a malignant mass in her body, the 35-year-old was heartbroken — thinking only of her two sons, Harley, 12, and Hugo, 10.

At the time, she was dealing with with “stress” and “depression”, having to watch her own mum, Wendie, 61, go through cancer treatment. But her health struggles turned out to be something much more sinister.

Kimberley Findeis-Sparkes with her long red hair and a leather jacket. Kimberley's mum in hospital receiving cancer treatment.
Kimberley Findeis-Sparkes was caring for her mum who was battling leukaemia when the 35-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer herself. Source: Jam Press

It was only when she lost about 6kg in weight that she was able to feel a “very large” lump in her chest.

“When doctors told me I had breast cancer, I was so scared that I was going to leave my babies and never see them grow up,” Kimberley, from the UK, told NeedToKnow.co.uk. “I had been feeling stressed and fatigued for five months but put it down to watching my mum go through leukaemia and resigning from my job to care for her.”

Mum finds lump on chest

Kimberley said she realised something was terribly wrong while laying in bed one night suffering from “very severe acid reflux”.

“I put my hand on my chest and rubbed it to try and soothe the burning sensation and that is the moment I felt the lump,” she said. “Had I not lost the weight and been so stressed I don’t think I would have discovered it when I did.”

Scared, Kimberley immediately contacted her doctor who arranged for specialist tests.

Physicians soon confirmed the cancer diagnosis and booked Kimberly in to undergo six rounds of chemotherapy. She is currently waiting for genetic testing to find out whether the best course of action is a single or double mastectomy.

Kimberley Findeis-Sparkes with her red curly hair and no hair while going through chemotherapy.
Kimberley said she found a lump on her chest after suddenly losing a lot of weight. Source: Jam Press

“Shock and disbelief was my initial reaction – I couldn’t comprehend how we could both have cancer at the same time, and I struggled to wrap my head around it,” she said. “After the shock came anger. It felt so cruel to put a family already going through something so hard, through it again.

“When I was diagnosed, we were waiting for my mum’s stem cell transplant and we all felt happy that, after months of her undergoing chemotherapy and seeing her suffer, we were nearing the last treatment stages — only to be taken right back to the start with mine.

“It was like cancer was prolonging everyone’s stress and pain.”

'Difficult conversations with my boys'

Kimberley is undergoing treatment while being a full-time carer for her mum.

“Chemotherapy has been difficult and I seemed to have been unlucky and had pretty much every side-effect you could think of. I was also unlucky as my hair fell out unusually quickly,” she said. “I have tried to remain as positive on the outside in front of other people as much as I can, but on my own — emotionally – I haven’t handled it well.

“I think one of the hardest things has been not having anyone to share the emotional burden placed on my children with. I’ve had to have difficult conversations with my boys on my own, preparing them for my hair loss and my bad days with chemo symptoms.”

She added her mum has struggled with her daughter’s diagnosis and has needed to focus on her own recovery.

Kimberley with her sons, Harley and Hugo dressed in Christmas pyjamas.
Kimberley said she is focused on spending as much time as she can with her sons, Harley and Hugo. Source: Jam Press

Mum's plea to others

Kimberley said she is determined to raise awareness for breast cancer, particularly in younger women.

“At only 35, I wouldn’t have dreamt that I would be diagnosed with it. Don’t be scared to go to your GP and push for a referral.

“I am fortunate that I have a wonderful and supportive GP, but I know not everyone may receive the same level of care.

“Doctors are hopeful that once all treatment is completed, I will be cured. I just have to remain positive and make the most of life, and enjoy watching my boys grow up into the wonderful men I know they’re going to be.”

Jam Press

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