Tessa was three months pregnant when she found a lump in her breast.
Tessa desperately wanted to be a mum and after eight fertility surgeries and five rounds of IVF, she found out it was finally going to happen for her.
But three months into the pregnancy she found a lump. An ultrasound found more lumps under her arms and after she was sent for a biopsy, her worst fears were confirmed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She was finally going to be a mum and all she would worry about was whether she and her baby were going to make it to Christmas.
Tessa started chemo at the end of November 2015. The drugs made her feel dreadful and she could only think of how the baby was, but the doctors assured her that it was ok.
She had a mastectomy at 28 weeks, but she was scared that her cancer was going to spread and become incurable secondary breast cancer. The doctors couldn’t give Tessa the tests to see if it had already spread, as it would harm the baby, so on top of everything else, the fear of dying from secondary breast cancer was never far from her mind.
Just before Christmas in 2015, Tessa had her baby 10 weeks early via a caesarean so that she could continue to get the breast cancer treatment she needed. Isabella Grace arrived just in time for Tessa and her partner, Marc, to spend their first Christmas together as a family.
Tessa was still scared that cancer could have already spread, but on New Year's Eve, weeks after giving birth, she was told it hadn’t and that her cancer was treatable. Isabella is now a healthy toddler and Tessa has had a chance to watch her grow.
How your donations are helping
With the help of donations made by Breast Cancer Now supporters, we're funding ground-breaking research into preventing secondary breast cancer.
Our researchers, like Professor Alison Gartland who is working at the University of Sheffield, are finding ways to stop breast cancer from spreading and give hope to those who have the disease.
Professor Gartland has already made a discovery about a molecule that enables breast cancer to spread to the bones and she hopes she will be able to develop treatments to stop cancer spreading to the bones, which will ultimately save more lives.
Help us keep more families together
Tessa was one of the lucky ones, but that’s not the case for everyone. Around 11,500 more women in the UK will be missing from Christmas celebrations this year - no one should have to lose a mum, a sister, partner or friend to breast cancer.
Could you support Breast Cancer Now’s research this Christmas, and give hope to those facing breast cancer for many Christmases to come?
Leave a message of support for our researchers
Send your messages of support to our researchers by sharing a Christmas Angel on social media and let them know what their work means to you.