CUDDLING her newborn baby is something every mother looks forward to but for Lynette Kirkham that moment was stolen away by cancer.
Immediately after giving birth to her son last December, the 31-year-old had to undergo an operation to have her right breast and lymph nodes removed.
It was 12 hours later she was able to hold Elijah although due to the morphine it is a moment she does not remember.
Lynette’s experience with cancer means completing next month’s Race for Life in Southsea will be a very emotional experience.
She said: ‘We had tried for so long to have a baby and when I eventually fell pregnant naturally we were so excited.
‘Like any new mum I knew how I wanted it to be – a nice natural labour, to breastfeed my baby, to take him to classes and swimming.
Cancer robbed me of all I had wished for. I felt cheated that everything I had wanted had been taken away from me.Lynette Kirkham
‘We didn’t even get to parenting classes before he was born because I was diagnosed and everything happened so fast.
‘I got to breastfeed him twice before I started chemotherapy.
‘Cancer robbed me of all I had wished for. I felt cheated that everything I had wanted had been taken away from me.’
Lynette, from Gosport, had to give birth at 34 weeks because of the cancer. Elijah was born weighing 5lb 2oz.
He spent time in the neo-natal intensive care unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, before being discharged in January.
Lynette added: ‘I felt so guilty giving birth early, knowing my baby would be in intensive care hooked up to wires and tubes.
‘At the same time I was scared about the cancer spreading in my body.
‘I was stressed out and felt like a bad mother. I couldn’t feed him, couldn’t hold him properly, couldn’t take him out. I had a rough time and was left feeling very inadequate.
‘Some days I was so weak I couldn’t even lift or cuddle him. I so desperately wanted to bond with Elijah but it was hard and I felt more like an aunty at times.’
Lynette has just finished her final round of chemotherapy and is having radiotherapy at QA Hospital.
As well as looking forward to reaching the end of her treatment, Lynette has also been focused on another major milestone – taking part in Race for Life in Southsea with a group of 13 family and friends.
Lynette first took part in the charity event two years ago to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
She signed up for this year’s event before being diagnosed.
She said: ‘I always knew I would do it this year – but never in a million years did I think I would be doing it for me.
‘I’m proof at just how vital research is – it has the power to save lives.
‘I hope the ladies of Hampshire lace up their trainers and come and join me and be part of an amazing day.’
Race for Life is on July 7 and 8 on Southsea Common.
Thousands of women are expected to take part in either the 5km or 10km routes.
To register visit raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org.