It’s the family photo that should spark a celebration. Parents Sam and Cam Bladwell and big brother Max meeting their new baby for the first time.
But there’s a sadness to this picture that the camera can’t show. Behind the smiles is the heartbreaking reality that baby Cecelia was delivered nine weeks early because Sam has lung cancer.
Her cancer is large, it’s aggressive, and it’s spreading even though this new mum-of-two from Brisbane has never smoked a day in her life. Now it’s a race against time (and the most horrible odds) to try and save Sam.
Sam’s brave battle against lung cancer
At 31 weeks pregnant, Sam Bladwell was enjoying a relatively complication-free pregnancy.
After experiencing some shortness of breath and minor back pain, she found herself in an ambulance headed to hospital where she received the shock of her life.
Despite never smoking, the otherwise healthy 36-year-old mum was diagnosed with aggressive Stage four metastatic lung cancer with an EGFR mutation. This means the cancer has already spread from her lungs to other parts of her body.
According to the Cancer Council, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in Australia. While 81% of all lung cancers are caused by smoking, this isn’t always the case.
Just look at Sam. She has never smoked in her life. Yet here she is.
Shortness of breath leads to pregnant mum lung cancer diagnosis
The news has left the Brisbane family facing an incredibly difficult battle ahead. One that is almost impossible to comprehend.
Rather than enjoying those final days of pregnancy and preparing to welcome her daughter, Sam is enduring treatment to give her the best chance of survival.
In order to start the intensive treatment right away, Sam gave birth to baby Cecilia (CeCe) nine weeks early. Now Sam, her husband Cam and their first born, Max, watch their daughter grow from the NICU, counting down the days until they can bring her home.
As CeCe powers through in the NICU, Sam is fighting her own battle at home. The loving mum and Queensland Law Society employee has started treatment to minimise her cancer.
The family are not sure what lies ahead or what the future holds – they deliberately opted not to find out the prognosis and instead will take the battle one day at a time.
Support pours in for Sam
Described as someone “who cares about everyone she comes into contact with” Sam has clearly touched the lives of many people.
Now friends and family are rallying to support the Bladwells and help them in any way possible. Sam’s co-worker and friend, Jason Olsson-Seeto has set up a GoFundMe account to help raise funds for Sam and her family.
“Sam has only been with Queensland Law Society less than a year and yet it feels like she has always been here. It’s hard to say why it feels that way… is it because she cares about everyone she comes into contact with or takes the time to listen when you know she has a thousand other things to do? I’m really not sure. Some people are just selfless, always thinking about others and good to the core,” Jason says.
Fighting cancer is expensive, having a premmy baby is expensive – and not being able to work is expensive. Everything in this situation is expensive.
It’s our turn to help the person who always listens, who’s always there, the person who least deserves to have to deal with the situation that Sam now finds herself in.” – Jason Olsson-Seeto, GoFundMe
Money raised will contribute to Sam’s medical costs and emerging cancer treatments that aren’t covered on the PBS as well as day-to-day costs the family-of-four face. So far close to 400 people have helped raise close to $50,000 for the family.
A rocky road ahead
The future for the Bladwells is uncertain. For them, not knowing allows them to keep their options open and remain positive that Sam will be cancer-free soon.
But the cold harsh truth is that Sam may only have a short time left with her two small children and her loving husband. Like Melbourne mum and brain cancer victim, Sara Chivers, Sam may never watch her babies grow up.
We are praying this won’t be the case and that Sam can beat this horrible disease. To follow her journey and support the Bladwell family, head to GoFundMe.