AS a proud mum watched her tiny newborn daughter open her eyes, she began the fight for her own life – and a fight to raise thousands of pounds.
Expectant mum Joanne Mills was 35 weeks pregnant when she discovered a lump on her right breast.
Assuming it was a hormonal reaction to her pregnancy Joanne, 36, went to her GP for a check-up and was given the devastating news that she was suffering from triple negative breast cancer. Specialists at Wigan Infirmary then told Joanne, who lives in Hawkley Hall with husband Sean, the heart-breaking news that she would have to give birth prematurely in order to receive life-saving chemotherapy treatment at The Christie Hospital in Manchester.
And it was just a couple of months after giving birth to little Sienna Jo in March, doctors confirmed that the cancer had spread from her breast to her lymph nodes and collarbone.
Fast-forward almost a year and Joanne is juggling her treatment alongside caring for her baby. But the 36-year-old has vowed not to let it stop her charity work.
In the past nine months she has continued to organise a range of events in order to raise as much as possible for both Breast Cancer Care and Mummy’s Star charities.
Today she has raised more than £20,000.
However, Joanne admits she just can’t wait to have a good rest and spend some quality time with her family.
She said: “As for celebrating the end of the year, I just want to spend the time with my family and friends and rest really. It’s been such a hard year so ‘chillaxing’ is all I want to do.”
Since receiving the news that the cancer had spread, Joanne has had to undergo surgery to remove the tumours.
This is being followed by 15 sessions of radiotherapy and greeted by more sessions of chemotherapy in the new year.
But, remaining positive she said it won’t let it put her off collecting as many donations as she can.
Joanne continued: “Hopefully I can get more events lined up in the new year as I would absolutely love to raise a milestone amount of money for two charities which are so close to my heart.
“From a personal point of view these events really do lift my spirits, it gives me something to focus on and something to look forward to. My life currently revolves around juggling chemotherapy treatment, hospital appointments, scans and blood tests and just for one day I have normality whereby I can forget all that and enjoy myself with family and friends this Christmas.
“It feels all a bit surreal at the minute and I keep thinking I’ll wake up tomorrow and it’s been a bad dream.
“I think I have come to terms with it now and need to keep saying to myself its a chronic disease rather than an incurable cancer.
“I still refuse to believe that the rest of my life will be fighting cancer. I’m a strong believer in thinking positive.”
She added: “At a time when I should be excited about my baby I had to deal with this. I was, and still am, very angry that cancer took away the excitement of seeing my child.”