Mum fought breast cancer while pregnant with miracle bub
OFTEN, the best pleasures in life are the ones you never expected to have.
Sweet little Billie Hehir was the one pleasure mum Leisa didn't expect she'd ever have.
The mum of two didn't think it would be possible to hold a daughter of her own in her arms until the unexpected happened.
Already blessed with son Jackson, 9, Leisa and her husband Tony were happy with their family of three.
They would have loved more in their brood, but that dream was put aside when Leisa was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.Together, the family tackled the cancer head-on with radiation, six rounds of chemotherapy and two surgeries, after which Leisa was given the all clear.
It was a victory for the family but the decision meant Jackson would have no brothers or sisters.
Until a miracle came along.
Having felt unwell for a while, Leisa paid a visit to her doctor, who gave her some news she would never have imagined: she was pregnant.
"I was over the moon; absolutely rapt," Leisa said.
But unfortunately the news didn't stop there. The trip to the doctor also revealed Leisa had advanced breast cancer and that it had progressed to her lungs.
However with her pregnancy already in its third trimester, it was possible for Leisa to undergo chemo while still pregnant.
Knowing that research had shown chemotherapy on expectant mothers had no effect on their babies if they were in their third trimester, Leisa and Tony put their faith in the doctors.
Leisa said the initial plan was for the pregnancy to go full-term and for her to have a natural birth.
That changed when doctors feared Leisa's lungs would struggle through a natural birth; and so Billie was born by caesarean on March 11, at 34 weeks.
"When I saw her I was wrapped," says Leisa.
She said a vital team of support that helped her through included the doctors and nurses in the maternity ward at Nambour hospital, and nurses in the special care unit of the hospital, where Billie spent three days. She also said Sharon Shelford, her Gympie-based McGrath Breast Care Nurse, but foremostly her friend, had been pivotal to her care and it was her husband who was her rock.
"I'm blessed. My husband is just an amazing person."
For now, the family takes each day as it comes while doctors monitor Leisa's condition and make decisions on how to approach treatment. Leisa is enjoying some time at home with her new little bundle.
"They're real time wasters," she said. "You just hope you're around to see them grow up."
And growing is something Billie has become good at. Born weighing 2030 grams, her weight dropped to 1830 grams, but is now well on its way back up.
"She's a fighter," Leisa said. Just like her mum.