Mum given six months to live after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer says no to treatment
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Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Katie Barson
A mum who was told she had six months to live after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer decided against having treatment.
Late last year, single mum Katie Barson, 36, was given the devastating news that her breast cancer had returned and had spread throughout her body.
She then made ‘the hardest decision’ of her life to say no to treatment after she was first diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease in March 2020.
Katie had a difficult time throughout surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which triggered an extremely rare immune system reaction and she experienced skin rashes, muscle weakness, and swelling all over her body.
However, the treatment worked and in December 2021, the assistant practitioner at a GP surgery was given the all-clear.
Unfortunately, after experiencing pain in her shoulder and chest in September last year, tests found that the cancer was back, with very few treatment options.
In November 2022, she decided to ‘do life - without the side effects of chemo that crippled me last time’ and to carry on ‘building memories’ with her 13-year-old daughter Freya.
The pair have gone on many adventures in the last year, including ice skating at Christmas, skydiving and a trip to Disneyland.
Katie also completed a charity mud-run not long after experiencing a collapsed lung, a complication of her cancer which was quickly getting worse and worse.
“I wasn't letting my sponsors down, so I did it,” she told MailOnline. “I've never been more proud of myself. Admittedly I walked, but I attempted each and every obstacle - as I always do in life. Freya and seven of my friends and family joined me, and it was one of the funniest days I'd had in a long time.”
Speaking before going to hospice care, Katie said: “When I was on chemo, I was so unwell and I wasn't myself at all.
“Freya would say to me, 'You don't look or smell like my mummy.' I didn't want my daughter's lasting memory of me to be of someone she didn't recognise.
“When you're diagnosed you feel like you have to do what you're told to. But you will know what is right for your family, and I knew this was the right decision.
“I wanted to be able to live while I was well, and I knew being on treatment wouldn't give me the quality of life to be able to do things with my daughter.”
According to Breast Cancer Now, there are an estimated 61,000 patients living with secondary breast cancer in the UK and around 11,500 die each year.
Katie has triple-negative breast cancer, which accounts for 15 percent of cases where normal hormonal cancer treatments are unable to treat the disease. In Katie’s case, newer immunotherapy drugs were not effective.
The mum has planned for her death as well as for her daughter’s future.
She explained: “I've written cards for important dates or important things in Freya's life. Her 16th, 18th and 21st birthdays, for passing her driving test, for passing exams, going to uni, first home, first baby, engagement, wedding day - I'm putting my words down for her because I can't give her me.”
For more information about breast cancer symptoms and treatment, visit the NHS website here.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, 8am–8pm seven days a week.