Heartbreak as North Shields mum and daughter, 3, diagnosed with cancer just weeks apart

Cindy Walker discovered a lump on Lily's leg the day before her third birthday, only two months after being diagnosed with cancer herself. Credit: NCJ Media

A North Shields family has suffered heartbreak after a mother and her young daughter were diagnosed with cancer within weeks of each other.

Cindy Walker discovered a lump on her daughter, Lily's leg the day before her third birthday, only two months after being diagnosed with breast cancer herself.

A week after the lump was found, Ms Walker received the news she was dreading - Lily also had cancer, known as rhabdomyosarcoma.

Now, the pair are undergoing treatment together.

Cindy, 35, her daughter Lily, 3, and partner Andrew, 37, have suffered heartbreak as a family. Credit: NCJ Media

Ms Walker was unaware she had a cancer gene until a distant cousin from Canada - who she had never met - contacted her and urged her to get checked.

She said: "My dad had already had cancer, and he was tested again for the gene, which he does have.

"My sister and I were then told we could go for yearly MRI scans. My sister went and she was fine, then I went and was asked to go back.

"On 21 July this year, they told me they'd found breast cancer on my first MRI scan and that I needed a lumpectomy."

Ms Walker underwent the operation, but she later got an infection and has had an open wound for around six weeks, which still has not healed fully.

Once the wound has been treated, the mother will begin chemotherapy before undergoing a double mastectomy.

Speaking to the Chronicle, she said: "That's because of the gene, they basically told me I'd get cancer again, so told me I might as well not get breast cancer again."

But as she continued to cope with her cancer diagnosis, the 35-year-old's world was again turned upside down a day before her daughter Lily's third birthday.

"My husband Anthony was putting some knee pads on Lily so she could go out on her bike and he found a lump on her leg", said Ms Walker, who also has an 11-year-old step-daughter called Emily.

"Obviously, because of my cancer gene I believed it was a tumour straight away and decided to get her to the doctor."

Lily, 3, is on her third round of chemotherapy. Credit: NCJ Media.

Appointments were then made at Cramlington Hospital, before Lily was transferred to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, where she was scanned, with a cancerous mass being revealed in her leg on 11 September.

Ms Walker said: "Since then, there's been test after test, she's on her third round of chemo now.

"She has that every week and she will also have to have an ovary taken out for the future, that will be frozen.

"They can also test her ovaries to see which egg has the cancer gene, so when she's older, has a partner and wants to have a baby, she can use the egg which doesn't have the cancer gene, which is really clever."

Lily will also have to get her right calf muscle removed, meaning her walking will be impaired, and a muscle from her back will be put into the leg.

She will also have to get more aggressive chemotherapy further down the line.

Lily will have to get her right calf muscle removed, meaning her walking will be impaired. Credit: NCJ Media

Ms Walker added: "She has good days, she has bad days. She's lost all of her hair, she's got a tube running from her nose to her tummy as she won't take medicines.

"She's just a poorly child. She also has a permanent tube running through an artery to her heart so they can take blood and give her medicines.

"They can do a lot with it, but she's took really well to it. She just gets poorly from the chemo, she's just a sick, poorly kid. Anthony is just being so strong for all of the family."

Following the pair's cancer diagnoses, Ms Walker is now urging women to check their breasts for lumps and also wants parents to check their children too.

"With me I don't think I would have went to the doctors straight away if I'd found a lump and hadn't already had cancer", Ms Walker said.

"I probably would have left it, thinking it's just a boil or an abscess. But it's so important to get it checked out to be safe."

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