I touched my bump and grinned at Jamie. “This is the silver lining we’ve been hoping for,” I said.
We’d talked about having a child since we first got together over six years ago after meeting at college where I was studying hairdressing, and Jamie was studying carpentry.
It was the culmination of love and careful planning. I’d had my share of unhappy surprises over the years.
In 2005, my mum, Julie Rounds, 44, found out she had breast cancer.
I remember the day she told me like it was yesterday, but what stands out more was how she kept smiling throughout her treatment.
I was only 12 at the time, and it was the hardest thing to take in. But my mum’s strength helped me and my sister, Ebony, 19, through it.
Then in November 2011, my dad’s sister, Mandy Rounds, 46, lost her fight with bowel cancer.
As a family, we didn’t think things could get any worse.
But a year later, Mum’s sister Sharon Arkell, 48, was diagnosed with breast cancer too, and it brought back everything we had been through with Mum.
Auntie Sharon had a single mastectomy, just like Mum did, and is pulling through, just like Mum, but as a family it almost broke us.
So when our daughter, Ruby May, was born in 2013 we thought our luck had finally changed.
She was such an adorable baby, and my labour was amazing. Nothing could compare to the pain we’d already suffered, and one look at her face just filled me with happiness.
But one night in December last year, Jamie and I were relaxing on the sofa after putting Ruby May to bed.
It wasn’t often it was just the two of us – Jamie worked long hours – and we were enjoying a rare moment together.
Feeling an itch under my arm, I went to scratch it and my heart stopped dead.
The sudden fear of what I thought I’d felt sent a surge blood rushing to my face.
I can’t be, I thought to myself.
I hesitated, not wanting to feel for the lump again, in case it was real.
But reason forced my hand. Gently, I felt again and there was no denying it, there were two lumps on the side of my right breast.
Not knowing what to do, I called my mum, sobbing down the phone.
“What if it’s cancer, Mum?” I cried.
“Don’t be silly, Abi. You’re only 22,” she reassured me.
“But just to be one hundred per cent, you need to book an appointment with the GP as soon as possible.”
Two days later, after an agonising wait, I went to the doctors with my sister.
“I don’t think you need to worry,” the GP said after checking my breast. “It’s probably just a cyst, or a milk duct that’s hardened after the birth of your daughter.”
If it wasn’t for my mum and my aunties both having cancer, I would have walked out of there feeling relieved if not slightly foolish.
But I wasn’t going to take any chances.
“I want it double-checked,” I said, and a week later we went to Hereford hospital for a scan.
They couldn’t feel the lump the first time they checked.
But when they eventually found it, they didn’t seem concerned.
“The GP’s probably right,” the oncologist said. “It’s more than likely just a milk duct, but because of your family history, we’ll do a biopsy.”
I tried my best to put it out of my mind over the next week. But I kept thinking, what if the results come back and I have cancer?’
Jamie kept comforting me, telling me it was so rare for someone my age to have cancer, but something inside me told me to prepare for the worse.
So when they rang a few days later, and asked if I had anyone to come with me when they told the results, I knew something was wrong.
“They wouldn’t ask if there was nothing,” I said. “Surely they’d just send a letter.”
In the oncologist’s office at the hospital, I sat next to my mum, holding her hand.
Jaime and dad sat on the bed behind us.
“I’m afraid it’s not good news,” she said.
I squeezed Mum’s hand.
“Both of the lumps we found are cancerous, one more than the other. “
I couldn’t help but break down there and then, sobbing into my mum’s shoulder.
To me, the word cancer was synonymous with death, and the doctor had just told me I was dying.
It didn’t matter that she told me it was treatable, and that she told me they were going to cure me.
But as soon as we walked out of the hospital, I thought: No. This isn’t going beat me. I’m going to fight it. If Mum and Mandy could beat it, there was no reason I couldn’t.
I had my cry, and headed home to Leominster, Herefordshire, and Ruby May.
The minute I saw her face, I knew I was going to be all right.
I whisked her up in my arms and kissed her until she was in fits of laughter.
“Your mummy’s all right,” I said. “She’s just got to get her sore boobies fixed.”
We don’t have a huge family, but we’re all very close, and the news wouldn’t take long to get round to everyone.
So one night, while Jamie was working away, I grabbed my phone and started scrolling through all the messages from people asking me if everything was OK, what was happening, was I all right, and I decided to do something about it.
I put together a little video telling people the news.
“This is a massive step for me,” I wrote. “If you’re wondering what’s wrong with me right now and what’s happened, please watch this video. As I’m writing this, my heart is pounding…
“I have had so many lovely messages off so many people I just thought instead of me repeating myself to everyone this would be the most easiest way for me to say it, and you’ll find out sooner or later so This is my short story…
“I never thought I would be sitting in the same position as my mum at the young age of 22 getting told I have breast cancer.”
“It is scary, and it is a shock and you don’t think it will ever happen to you.
“But with the support of my amazing family, fantastic friends, and my daughter, I will do that and I will kick cancer’s butt!”
Once I’d finished making the short film, I locked my phone and tried to sleep. It had taken a lot out of me, and I didn’t feel I had the strength to post it there and then.
The next morning, at 10am, my finger hovered over the ‘post’ button while I had my breakfast.
I guess I was too frightened about what people might think and say.
Terrified, my heart pounding, I pressed send. Then I put my phone away and didn’t check it for a few hours.
When I did eventually go back to it I was amazed by the incredible response.
Hundreds of likes and hundreds of comments and shares from people sending me heart emojis and telling me I could beat it filled my inbox.
It was such a wonderful feeling to know how many people cared about me. It really helped me to know I had so much support.
It was such a revelation that I started posting daily updates to Facebook telling people about my situation, when my surgery was and when I would start chemo.
In January 2015, I went in to have double mastectomy.
I promised myself that I wasn’t going to get worked up – it was, after all, going to save my life.
“This is it now – don’t get nervous,” I said.
My dad, Colin Rounds, 48, tried to lighten the mood cracking jokes and making us laugh.
But as they wheeled me down the corridor, away from my mum, dad and Jamie, I looked back and Mum started welling up.
Seeing her face flushed with tears, when she was so strong and constantly smiling, sent me over the edge, and I just couldn’t look back.
After the op, I woke up to smiling faces all round.
The operation had been a massive success. Although they had found some cancerous cells in my sentinel lymph nodes, and they had diagnosed it as a grade two, they managed to get it all.
“Take a picture, mum,” I said. “I want to remember this moment.”
I posted the picture to Facebook immediately to update my friends that I was out in one piece.
After four nights in hospital I was finally discharged and went home to Ruby May.
“Ouchy,” she said pointing to her mummy’s sore boobies.
“Ouchy,” I said, feigning an unhappy face. “Almost better now.”
One thing I was dreading more than the surgery though, was losing my hair.
I’d always taken such pride in my appearance, and slowly going bald was just something I wasn’t going to do.
With my friends, sister and mum, I decided to meet it head-on, and shave my head as part of a funday, raising money for cancer research.
“If you’re shaving your head, then we’re shaving ours too,” mum and Ebony said.
And so four days after my first chemo session, Mum, Ebony, cousin Alex, and friends Tash and Louise, we all shaved our heads and raised an amazing £2100 for cancer research.
A few days later, once a little hair had grown back, the chemo finally kicked in and some of it started falling out.
By the end of the month, it had all fallen out, along with my eyebrows, most of my body hair, and even my eyelashes!
But at last we managed to raise some money before any of that happened.
Of course we posted the whole event on Facebook, and everyone who saw the pictures left lovely comments.
Three months on from that terrifying day in December when I found the lump, I’m finally doing really well.
I just want people to know that you’re never too young to have cancer, and you’re never too old to beat it – just go and get it checked.