A brave young mum is gaining strength from blogging her fight against a rare incurable cancer.
Joanna Heard, of Haslingden, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in July, six months after giving birth to daughter Freya.
The 34-year-old was then told on August 1 that she was ALK-positive, a genetic condition mainly affecting young and middle aged women who are usually light or (like her) non smokers.
While drugs to shrink the tumours are available on the NHS, the coffee shop worker says life expectancy is currently still only around seven years.
Joanna, who describes herself as an ALK-positive lung cancer warrior, has set up the @justamammafightingcancer Instagram blog, which helps her to come to terms with the everyday struggles, while shining a light on a little understood condition. The blog has nearly 600 followers already in just over a month.
Joanna admitted when she was first diagnosed she "was knocked for six" and inevitable dark thoughts entered her head.
Doctors had suspected Joanna, who is planning her wedding to partner Daniel Jonathan on Good Friday next year, had chest infections, pneumonia and even pleurisy, and she is passionate about highlighting the problems of misdiagnosis and improper treatment.
Joanna, who is originally from Southport, is on a daily treatment of tablets for life, however when she grows immune to the drug after three to five years she will require an alternative.
Joanna, of Peel Street, says writing the blog has helped her greatly to stay in an optimistic frame of mind and also helped her friends and family to deal with what she is going through.
Joanna added that an online support group of fellow patients have also been a ‘fantastic’ help, especially as most of the material available on the web about lung cancer survival rates is so bleak.