“You can’t have cancer and be pregnant,” was Pete Wallroth’s reaction to his wife’s earth-shattering news on June 18, last year. “It just seemed perverse,” he said, recalling the moment he was told the unthinkable.
Tragically, Mair Wallroth lost her battle with breast cancer on December 6, passing away in Willow Wood Hospice two months after the birth of their second child, aged 41.
A year after her diagnosis, Pete, of Castle Street, Hadfield, launched Mummy’s Star in his late wife’s memory, the UK’s first charity to support pregnant woman with cancer.
The 33-year-old told The Advertiser: “We’d been incredibly lucky with all the support we received from employers, friends and family. I started thinking what would somebody do if they had just got a new job or their family lived hundreds of miles away.
“I wanted to offer a way for women to find others that were experiencing the same thing so they could talk about the challenges and how to cope. I wanted to make a very, very difficult stage a bit easier.”
Five months on, Mummy’s Star, named after the way the father-of-two explained to his children, Martha, 4, and Merlin, one, that their mother was up in heaven, has now raised more than £15,000.
The charity, which consists of 12 trustees including a midwife, a Macmillan cancer nurse and three women who have suffered cancer during pregnancy, offers advice and information as well as a way to connect women with other families in the same position.
Pete, who works for a housing association, said: “Anybody who gets diagnosed with cancer gets given reams of information. But it’s very unique when you’ve got a new born child.
“My first concern, it wasn’t really about Mair, it was about the baby. Does this mean we can’t have him? We wanted reassurance. It’s a scary time. Like having a baby but with quadruple the worry.
“The first thing Mair did was look up cancer and pregnancy. She couldn’t find other women to talk to. I asked midwives, is there anything in this country specifically for this situation? There was nothing out there.”
Mummy’s Star also operates a small grants programme to struggling families. Most recently they awarded a man money to allow him to have ten days unpaid leave to be with his newborn while his wife had cancer treatment.
Research shows that cancer during pregnancy is uncommon, occurring in approximately one out of every 1,000 pregnancies.
To date, Pete said the volunteers at Mummy’s Star have been overwhelmed with positive feedback, saying: “One comment we’ve had was from a woman who said our information makes for hard reading but it instantly made her fell less isolated.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit the Mummy’s Star website, at www.mummysstar.org, or its Facebook page.