Mum’s stillbirth leads to shock diagnosis
After several rounds of IVF Joann Pucciarelli was delighted to discover she was expecting a second child.
However, tragedy struck at her 30-week scan when Joann was told her daughter had no heartbeat.
But through the tragedy, the Australian mum found a silver lining as a mammogram revealed an undiagnosed cancer.
Here Joann reveals how her loss led to saving her life.
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I guess you can say October is my month. I, unfortunately, get to honour both breast cancer awareness and stillborn and pregnancy loss.
I can't talk about my breast cancer without first talking about my IVF journey.
I struggled with infertility but was lucky to finally get pregnant with my daughter, Olivia.
When she turned three, we decided we wanted to grow our family. After many consults and IVF procedures, we were pregnant with another little girl.
I can't begin to tell you how excited we all were, especially Olivia who was dreaming of having a baby sister.
But on March 29, 2017 at my 30-week normal routine check-up, we got the devastating news that there was no heartbeat.
That was worst day of my life. I had to go home to get all my belongings and prepare to have a C-section.
No one can ever be prepared to deliver a child that is born "sleeping".
Her name was Giorgiana. We both got to hold her, spend some time with her and sang all the same songs we sang to Olivia.
As hard as it was to wrap our heads around what was happening we now had to explain to our four-year-old that her sister was an angel in heaven.
Instead of planning her arrival home, we were planning her funeral.
The next few months were a blur. I had no choice but to keep on going if only for my daughter. I had to show her we were all going to be OK, even though I had no idea how.
We didn't realise it then, but Giorgiana saved my life.
As I was planning my next IVF cycle, my fertility doctor forced me to get a mammogram.
A few weeks later, seven months after losing my child I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It felt like an out-of-body experience, I could not believe this was happening to me and my family.
Even though it had spread to my lymph nodes, I was "lucky" - we still caught it early. If we had waited any longer it would have kept spreading.
I had a bilateral mastectomy, followed by eight rounds of chemo and 28 rounds of radiation.
During treatment I was offered cold capping therapy, which is an insanely freezing cap (-35 degrees) you put on your head for an hour before chemo starts and five hours after it ends, that saved about 50-60 per cent of my hair.
I have met some amazing people through this journey who have shared their stories which helped me get through all that I have been through.
I hope that by sharing my story, I can do the same.
This story was originally published on Kidspot and was reproduced here with permission
Originally published as Mum's stillbirth leads to shock diagnosis