Cancer mum Heidi Loughlin would have 'kept baby in tummy'

Ally Louise and mum Heidi after birth Image copyright Heidi Loughlin
Image caption Heidi Loughlin delayed chemotherapy to give her unborn child the best chance and Ally Louise Smith was born by 12 weeks early

A cancer patient who gave birth early has said she would have made "some very different decisions" over her treatment had she known her daughter would die.

Heidi Loughlin, 33, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive breast cancer while pregnant with her third child.

Ally Louise Smith was born 12 weeks early, allowing her mother to begin treatment, but died eight days later.

"If I knew she wasn't going to make it... I would have kept her in my tummy," Ms Loughlin said.

After she discovered a rash on her breast, doctors gave her the option of terminating the pregnancy so she could begin aggressive chemotherapy.

Pain 'unbearable'

But she decided to delay treatment in order to give birth to her baby.

Ms Loughlin, of Portishead near Bristol, said she had been left with the feeling of wanting her daughter back "more than anything" but was continuing for her two sons, one-year-old Tait and two-year-old Noah.

She said the "pain of her not being here is so unbearable" but said she chose to have Ally early so she could have treatment and be there for her sons as well.

"With her having such a great prognosis at 28 weeks - it just made sense. And maybe some people would have done things differently but I wanted to make it right for all of them," she said.

"She's in my mind all the time. I want her to be proud of me. She's my little girl."

Image caption Heidi Loughlin was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer when she was pregnant with her third child, a daughter Ally

Within a few hours of the family going home to Portishead near Bristol after Ally's birth the infant became severely unwell.

"Everything was brilliant and then she got really, really unwell and wouldn't ever recover and it was the darkest most horrendous all-consuming feeling," said Ms Loughlin.

In the immediate hours and days after her daughter's death, Ms Loughlin said she questioned the point of having chemotherapy.

Image caption Ms Loughlin has two sons Tait, aged one, and two-year-old Noah with her partner Keith Smith

Ms Loughlin said her partner and father of their children, Keith Smith, has been "completely selfless" through the loss of Ally and his potential loss of herself.

She said she had no idea how long she had got left but was distracting herself by making plans for the future.

"It's about wanting whatever time I have left to mean something and not be swallowed up by the devastation of losing Ally," she said.

"To wake up and breathe was difficult at that point - then I would think it's for the boys and put one foot in front of the other," she said.

Ms Loughlin also revealed that several woman in Scotland had been diagnosed with the same condition after recognising the symptoms from her blog.

And as a result of publicity generated from the blog 100 hats for newborn babies have been knitted and donated to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Bristol's Southmead Hospital.

More than £16,000 has also been raised to buy medical equipment for families of babies staying at the Special Care Baby Unit at St Michael's Hospital, Bristol.

You can see more of the interview with Heidi Loughlin at 18:30 on BBC Points West in the West of England or on tonight's 10 O'Clock News on BBC One.

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