Mum, 34, diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer months after giving birth

A mum diagnosed with stage 4 cancer six months after giving birth has spoken about the fear of not seeing her young daughter grow up.

Instagram blogger Joanna Heard, 34, learned in July she had a tumour and thought she "would be dead in a year".

A month later she told she was ALK-positive, a genetic condition mainly affecting young and middle-aged women who are usually light or, like Joanna, non-smokers.

While drugs to shrink the tumours are available on the NHS, the coffee shop worker says life expectancy is currently still only around seven years, LancashireLive reports.


Joanna, who describes herself as an ALK-positive lung cancer warrior, has set up the @justamammafightingcancer Instagram blog.

It helps her to come to terms with the everyday struggles, while shining a light on a little understood condition.

Joanna admitted when she was diagnosed she "was knocked for six" and dark thoughts entered her head.

She said: “It was surreal. It was like 'this only happens to everyone else', I’m just your average 34-year-old mum.

“My general feeling was I’m going to be dead in a year.


“You’re having to sit there and think realistically ‘if they can offer me chemotherapy, is it worth it?’

"To go through those thoughts and emotions was terrifying, but people face it every single day.”

Doctors had suspected Joanna, who is planning her wedding to partner Daniel Jonathan on Good Friday next year, had chest infections, pneumonia and even pleurisy, and she is passionate about highlighting the problems of misdiagnosis and improper treatment.

She said: “It is affecting more and more young people and not every hospital offers the testing of cells that finds these rare forms.

“Not every oncologist in the country knows about it, which is quite scary. Sharing knowledge is sharing power against this awful disease.”


Joanna, who is originally from Southport, is on a daily treatment of tablets for life, however when she grows immune to the drug after three to five years she will require an alternative.

She added: “Whenever this one stops working for me the next one will be available.

“They’re very expensive, which is why they don’t offer genetic testing to everybody.

“I’m still breathless and cannot walk very far. I’m now classed as disabled. I get quite a lot of nerve pain.”

Joanna, of Peel Street, says writing the blog has helped her greatly to stay in an optimistic frame of mind and also helped her friends and family to deal with what she is going through.

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