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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Carlisle mum with terminal cancer aiming 'to be around as long as possible'

A brave mum is fighting back after being diagnosed with cancer – while she was pregnant.

Sam Clementson photo
Sam Clementson with husband Ben

Sam Clementson, of Alexander Street, Carlisle, has married the “love of her life” Ben since she was given the heartbreaking news that her illness was terminal.

The mum-of-two is also undergoing chemotherapy to prolong her life as much as possible. Sam, 34, found out she had mouth cancer after a routine visit to the dentist, shortly after falling pregnant with her second child Theo.

It meant the newborn had to be delivered by Caesarian a month-and-a-half prematurely so she could begin treatment.

With baby Theo just a few days old, Sam underwent a gruelling neck dissection to remove lymph nodes, and had half of her tongue removed, before she was later given the all clear.

But a few months later doctors discovered the cancer had returned and spread to her lungs – and it was terminal.

She said: “I was in complete shock and Ben was on the floor crying. I was told that if there were things I wanted to do I should do them as soon as possible.”

The couple had already got engaged and the big day was booked for September 2015.

But just eight days after being given the news, Sam and Ben changed their plans and tied the knot at Carlisle register office before their reception was held at the Kings Arms in Stainton, Penrith.

“It was just the most perfect, unforgettable day,” they said.

Sam started chemotherapy a month later and is now preparing for her third and final round. Her tongue has completely grown back, baby Theo is happy and healthy, and the newlyweds are looking to the future as much as possible.

Sam added: “I’m not dead yet! I’ve got two children and would do anything for them so I want to be around as long as possible.

"Theo is too young to understand but we told my daughter Jessica who is three that I’ve got something nasty in me and I need medication to make it better.

“And because my hair has fallen out I also got her a pink wig like mine to wear.”

Ben, 28, added: “It’s been the hardest thing we’ve ever had to face but we’ve had such a strong support network around us.”

Sam, and several of her close pals, are now organising a fundraising bash in aid of Macmillan, and to raise awareness of oral cancer.

Sam said she and her family wouldn’t have got through their ordeal without the support of Macmillan specialist nurse Helen Murdock.

Sam explained: “I don’t want sympathy – it’s not about that. I look at what these nurses do and it’s amazing.

“If by raising awareness we manage to save just one life then it’s all worthwhile.”

Helen said: “I feel privileged to have been let into Sam’s life. The fastest diagnostic cancer of any type anywhere in the body is in the head and neck, and it isn’t age specific either.”

The event will take place at The Venue in Portland Place, Carlisle, from 7pm on June 27 – for more information email fids24@googlemail.com.

Meanwhile, Sam also plans to attend her first ever football match when Liverpool play Newcastle on the last day of the season at Anfield – a match in which the Merseysiders are hoping to be crowned champions.

Her friend Nicki Simpson said: “Sam is absolutely amazing and is the strongest person I’ve ever met.”

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