• Julia Sidwell

Don't mention the C word!

Lorna was a pleasure to work with. She was so brave in sharing her story of how she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly before her wedding. Tell and Sell Stories placed her story in Love It! magazine and thankfully she is now in remission.

Sell My Cancer Story

Lorna Skelly, 33, had just moved house and was hauling a bookcase into the living room when she doubled over with severe abdominal pain.

She hoped pain relief and a hot water bottle would ease the discomfort, but when she woke in the middle of the night in agony her husband Iain, 36, rushed her to hospital.

‘Doctors thought it was my appendix or an ectopic pregnancy,’ she said. ‘I had my bloods taken, was X-rayed and admitted to a surgical ward. It wasn’t until late afternoon that I had an internal scan that showed a huge cyst on my right ovary.’

The cyst was the size of a tennis ball and Lorna was told she needed emergency surgery. The night before she was put under, Lorna gave Iain a choice.

‘I knew the cyst might affect me becoming a mum and I knew how much Iain wanted children, so I told him I understood if he didn’t want to stay with me,’ she said. 'I gave him the option to leave, but he refused. I was so relieved, I’d met Iain when I was 13 and knew from the minute I saw him we’d end up together.’

Mrs Skelly, from Roxburghshire in the Scottish Borders, woke from surgery to discover her right ovary and fallopian tube had been removed. She was devastated - becoming a mother had been Lorna’s dream since she was a child herself. Weeks later, she was called in to hospital.

‘As soon as I sat down at the table laid out with coffee, tea and biscuits, I just knew I was going to be given bad news,’ she said.

Lorna was diagnosed with stage one ovarian cancer but her consultant expressed how lucky it was it had been found early.

‘He told me if it had been left much longer I wouldn’t have made it to my 30th birthday,’ she said.

As well as battling cancer, Lorna had something else to think about – her wedding that had been two years in the planning was just six months away.

‘I was concerned about having to get married without hair but the consultant agreed I could try a different type of chemo,’ she said.

Three months before her big day, Lorna started treatment. The steroids she was on made her crave Indian takeaways and cheesy Doritos, which was bad news for her wedding dress.

‘I’d found my dream dress two years previously, before Iain and I were even engaged,’ she said. ‘Weeks before the wedding I tried it on but my mum Sandra couldn't do the zip up. I knew it couldn’t be made bigger and I was distraught.’

Doctors agreed to reduce her steroid intake and a week before the wedding she tried on her dress again. This time it fit perfectly. There was just one more thing Lorna was worried about.

‘I didn’t want to be reminded I was battling cancer on our wedding day,’ she said. ‘I wanted one day off and for the focus to be on me and Iain, so I made my friends and family promise not to mention cancer on the big day. My dad Alan agreed not to talk about it in his speech. He said he didn’t really want to talk about 'that bloody awful thing' anyway, which made me laugh.’

The wedding day went without a hitch and Lorna was so grateful everyone kept to their word. As she married her soulmate, she forgot all about what she’d been going through.

After their honeymoon in Egypt, Lorna finished her last session of chemotherapy. Then, after having fertility tests, she got some bad news – she wasn’t ovulating.

‘I went to see my mum to tell her. Suddenly she said: ‘I’ll have your children for you.’ I was completely taken aback by her offer. She knew how much I wanted a family and felt guilty it was me who had cancer and not her.’

But Lorna was adamant she would eventually have her own children, so she and Iain stayed positive and kept on trying.

Eight months after their wedding, Lorna began feeling unwell.

‘I was at my in-laws and had a sudden craving for fish,’ she said. ‘Funny thing is, I hate fish, I can’t even touch it. But we bought some for dinner and it was the best thing I’d ever tasted. It made me wonder, so I checked my calendar and realised my period was late.’

‘Days later I took a pregnancy test and it was positive,' she said. 'I showed it to Iain who said: ‘Who’s is that?’ He was so shocked he couldn't believe it was me who had taken the test. The next day I bought a digital test but couldn’t use it I was so nervous. Eventually I did it while Iain was in the shower and I banged on the glass to show him the positive result. We both cried with happiness.’

Lorna had Ryan, seven, and even went on to have two more sons, Jamie, three, and Liam, 14 months.

Now the cancer is gone. Lorna has yearly check-ups and loves being a mother to her boys. She’s even managed to wear her beloved wedding gown twice more at two wedding dress charity balls she organised.

'To be told I might never have children was truly devastating,' she said. 'Looking back, I'm so glad Iain and I didn't split up. We’ve been through a lot and are now so happy together with our three sons. We feel blessed.'

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