Walsall mother about to give birth while battling breast cancer is still smiling
A Walsall mother who is about to give birth while facing down breast cancer is running a fundraiser to help her and her growing family.
Chantel Chantiluke, 33, is sharing her story after being diagnosed while she was 11 weeks pregnant.
Chantel, who is due to be induced this week, is in the midst of any mother's worst nightmare and has launched a GoFundMe page as her family struggle through a "rollercoaster of challenges".
The aim is for her husband Aaron to be able to take unpaid leave to help care for her and their son.
Chantel, who lives in Walsall with husband Aaron and son Ethan, was diagnosed with stage two inflammatory breast cancer while she was expecting.
She is now undergoing chemotherapy and, although the treatment comes with pain and difficulty, she says the risk to her baby is low.
"Based on what my oncologist has said, the placenta does a good job of filtering out any toxins that may pose a risk to the baby," Chantel said.
"Obviously chemotherapy while pregnant is never an ideal situation and there is still a risk at any stage. With my induction of labour being on September 27, I'm grateful to have made it this far in my pregnancy while being on active treatment.
"Chemotherapy is horrible and it's so difficult to maintain your mental health when you just feel so terrible. I had chemo every three weeks starting from April 18. I have had seven rounds so far, three was on FEC made up of flouracil, epirubicin and cyclosphamide so three drugs being received at one time.
"The other four rounds I received a single drug called docetaxol. Both of these drugs had varying symptoms - on FEC I really suffered with fatigue, 'chemo brain' where you experience forgetfulness, dizziness and headaches.
"On docetaxol it massively affected my legs, they felt so weak and heavy at times and at night I had restless leg syndrome which then affected my sleep. I was sick more often on this drug and experienced tingling/numbness in my hands."
The Marks & Spencer baker, who works in Wednesbury, said she was leading an "average but fulfilling" life with her "best friend" and husband, who works as a youth participation officer at Dudley Council.
The pair initially thought Chantel's inflammation was caused by a form of mastitis.
The breast cancer diagnosis on March 23 disrupted "every facet" of the couple's lives, Chantel said, and they have faced a "rollercoaster of challenges" ever since.
Chantel said hearing her diagnosis made her feel "numb".
"When I had the initial appointment at the hospital on March 20, I was sent for an ultrasound and a biopsy. The consultant said it might be cancer or it might be a lump that I need surgery on.
"When I came back on March 23, that was when I was told 'unfortunately you have cancer', and I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer stage 2/grade 3 at 11 weeks pregnant.
"At first I was numb and couldn't grasp that the cancer diagnosis was for me.