Mummy’s Star, the only charity in the UK and Ireland supporting women diagnosed with cancer in and around pregnancy, is bringing the subject into sharp national focus next month as it launches its third awareness week.
Despite only being set up three years ago, Mummy’s Star is already supporting women across the UK and Ireland as they come to terms with a cancer diagnosis, either during a pregnancy or soon after a birth.
Mummy’s Star’s previous awareness weeks in 2014 and 2015 saw a significant rise in the uptake of support and an increased awareness of how this situation can impact families. Following on from this success Mummy’s Star is now seeking to reach new audiences amongst both members of the public and medical professionals with its 2016 ‘Cancer and Pregnancy Awareness Week’.
Nicolette Peel, Chair of Mummy’s Star and a third year midwifery student at the University of Salford said:
“Since we launched Mummy’s Star in 2013, we have been privileged to get to know over 200 women and their families. As we approach our third anniversary as a charity I feel that we have grown, not just in number but also in understanding, both of ourselves as an organisation and also of the issues, needs and desires of the women we serve.
“One of the things that women regularly express to us is their sadness at the loss of normality in their pregnancy/motherhood journey. Normality can be seen as the opportunity to make informed choices about pregnancy and birth, equitable access to midwifery care, sharing the joy of a new baby and, perhaps most importantly, being treated as a pregnant/new mum first and foremost and a cancer patient second.
“During Cancer and Pregnancy Awareness Week in June, our campaign will be ‘maintaining normality for women with cancer throughout the pregnancy journey’. It is my goal that healthcare professionals will feel increasingly confident in encouraging and supporting women to make the choices which are important to them. I hope that women will feel more comfortable in voicing preferences and letting their teams know their own wishes and priorities. Something as small as being spoken to with joy about their impending birth, rather than sympathy, for example, can really make a difference.
“Sadly we hear from many woman how they felt their pregnancy/new mum experience was overshadowed by their cancer diagnosis or that their sense of autonomy and choice disappeared. Likewise a number of our mums tragically lost a pregnancy as a result of diagnosis but were not provided with the necessary baby loss support that women need access to at such a devastating time.”
During ‘Cancer and Pregnancy Awareness Week a strong social media campaign is being launched to highlight that a mum-to-be/new mum, even if diagnosed with cancer, is still a mum-to-be/new mum and they should be treated and cared for as such.
Dr Jacque Gerrard, Director of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) for England, patron of the charity said:
“This year’s Mummy`s Star theme, ‘maintaining normality for women with cancer throughout the pregnancy journey’ is key to supporting a woman to focus positively on her pregnancy and becoming a mother whilst accessing treatment along the cancer pathway. Importantly cancer treatment in pregnancy includes continuation of the pregnancy and preventing premature birth. I am delighted to say that this theme is very much in line with the Royal College of Midwives ‘Better Births’ initiative which promotes normalisation of care for all women including women with underlying medical conditions such as cancer in pregnancy. How we organise care for pregnant women with cancer and post birth will have an impact on the woman and her partner’s experience, their relationship with their newborn baby as well as an impact on the health outcomes for mother and baby. I believe that it is imperative that we get this right for every woman.
During Cancer and Pregnancy Awareness Week, my hope is that we can spread the word across the healthcare professions about the fantastic work Mummy`s Star charity does in supporting women and their families during this stressful time. By making healthcare professionals more aware they can then signpost women with cancer during pregnancy, to Mummy’s Star.
I am incredibly proud to be Mummy`s Star patron and congratulate everyone involved from the CEO and trustees to the fundraisers who work so hard to help our women. I sincerely hope that this year’s Cancer in Pregnancy Awareness Week has a huge impact resulting in making a big difference to our women and their families that everyone at Mummy`s Star supports.”