Buckshaw Village mum battles ovarian cancer to take on the boxing ring

A woman who had a tumour that weighed eight kilos is now fighting fit after winning a charity boxing match.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 9:26 am
Updated Thursday, 20th December 2018, 4:03 pm
Laura Brookes (in blue) takes part in a boxing match

Laura, of Buckshaw Village, was shocked to be told she had ovarian cancer whilst lying in a hospital bed, preparing for the removal of a cyst.The then 26-year-old was given the difficult decision of sacrificing her ability to have a child, as both her ovaries had been affected.After IVF was not an option due to lack of funding, she was able to naturally conceive her daughter, Imogen, who is now two-and-a-half.The 33-year-old had a full hysterectomy last February and has been discharged from any follow ups.With a new outlook on life, she set up her own professional housekeeping business, Bright and Beautiful, and trained to compete in a white collar boxing match. She won the title and raised £750 for Macmillan Cancer Support, which had been with her every step of the way throughout her cancer battle.

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Laura says: “I had lost nine stone and noticed my stomach was hard. I immediately thought I was pregnant and took a few tests, which were negative. I went to see my GP who thought I had grumbling appendix. I was told I could go to A&E if I wanted to, but she didn’t seem that bothered, so I went home. My partner convinced me to go to A&E and they discovered a large cyst which was 30cm. It was full of liquid and was moulded around my organs.“The doctor told me I had a tumour and I was going to be referred to gynaecology. Then a Macmillan nurse came to see me. I was shocked as this had never been discussed with me. I had gone from being in hospital waiting to find out what was going in to seeing a cancer nurse at my bed.“I moved to the gynaecology ward and the team there was amazing. My Macmillan nurse was brilliant and liaised between the doctors and my family. She pushed me further up the waiting list to remove the cyst as it was growing so fast.“I ended up on the emergency theatre list as the tumour was getting out of control. It was embarrassing as I looked like I was pregnant and people kept asking when my baby was due.“When the surgeons removed the tumour, it had got to 60cm long and was 8 kilos. I was lucky they were able to get it out in one piece.”It was during this process, Laura and her husband Paul discussed whether they wanted a family, as she had lost one ovary and her other one had been affected by the tumour.She adds: “There were concerns about my other ovary as it was looking dodgy.“We wanted a family and so we agreed to have IVF. However, in the mean time the NHS had pulled the plug on any funding for this. It was so upsetting, as I had worked for NHS Blood and Transplant and dedicated my life to the NHS and when it was time for the service to give something back, they were not there for me. “We tried to conceive naturally and we did. Imogen is now two-and-a-half.”After Imogen was born, the couple faced a further painful decision as to whether to forgo any future hope of more children and remove her remaining ovary,Laura says: “I was monitored regularly and was in constant limbo about what the scans would reveal. The cyst had started to grow and doctors asked whether we wanted any more children, or whether we should look at getting rid of the ovary. The decision was down to me, but I knew which way the doctors were advising me.“I had the hysterectomy last February. People kept asking me why I had done that, as I can’t have any more children, but I want to be there to see my one child I have now grow up.”Following the hysterectomy, Laura was discharged from needing any more care and she is now moving forward in her life.She left the NHS and set up Bright and Beautiful, in Buckshaw Village, 18 months ago.She says: “The cancer changed my outlook at life, as you only have one shot at it. I decided to take the plunge and set up my own business as I was working long hours with the NHS.”Laura also began boxing and competed in a white collar boxing event at Preston Guild Hall in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.The eight week training programme prior to the match was extremely tough, as was the match itself, but knowing that her efforts would make a difference to other people on their own cancer journey spurred her on.She says: “I have an amazing little girl and I have my life back. The care I had from my Macmillan nurse and Royal Preston Hospital was amazing and I wanted to give something back.“The training was quite intense and a bit painful, nonetheless it was a challenge that was both tough and enjoyable at the same time. It took a lot of courage and determination to get in the ring, but with the encouragement from the crowd, and knowing why and who I was doing it for, gave me the strength to succeed. “My colleagues and customers at Bright & Beautiful have been really supportive throughout this journey, despite many telling me how crazy I was. The fund raising was the important part and I am just glad that I was able to do my bit and have fun in the process.”

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Laura Brookes and her husband Paul with their daughter Imogen
Laura Brookes and her husband Paul with their daughter Imogen