Mother, 29, tells how she made heartbreaking decision not to bond with her newborn son to spare him the emotional trauma of losing her after she was diagnosed with terminal blood cancer
- Hannah Toohill was diagnosed with incurable blood cancer after giving birth
- The 29-year-old from Scotland went into labour 11 weeks early with baby Fraser
- Distanced herself from him because she was convinced she was going to die
A young mother has revealed how she refused to bond with her baby after finding out she had terminal cancer because it ‘would be kinder if he never got to know her.’
Hannah Toohill, from Dingwall in Scotland, began experiencing excruciating back and chest pain four months into her pregnancy before her waters broke at 27 weeks.
She went into labour 11 weeks early with her son Fraser, by which time she was in such pain she was unable to walk.
Three weeks later the 29-year-old was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare and incurable form of blood cancer.
Ms Toohill made the decision not to bond with her newborn because she thought it was the best thing for him ‘not to know the mother he would eventually lose.’
Hannah Toohill, from Dingwall in Scotland, with her son Fraser – who she initially refused to bond with after learning she had incurable cancer
What is multiple myeloma?
Multiple myeloma, also known as myeloma, is a type of bone marrow cancer.
It is called multiple myeloma because the cancer often affects several areas of the body, such as the spine, skull, pelvis and ribs.
Symptoms of multiple myeloma include: a persistent dull ache or areas of tenderness in bones, weak bones that break (fracture) easily, tiredness, weakness and shortness of breath, repeated infections, kidney problems and bruising and unusual bleeding.
It is not known exactly what causes multiple myeloma. However, there is a close link between multiple myeloma and a condition called monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS).
Ms Toohill was unable to walk up stairs or leave the house because of the crippling pain, but was only diagnosed after giving birth when she started bleeding heavily.
She had suffered a broken sternum and crushed discs in her back as a result of the cancer weakening her bones.
Following a bone marrow biopsy, she underwent four months of gruelling chemotherapy before having a stem cell transplant.
Ms Toohill told the Daily Record she only changed her decision when she realised the treatment she was receiving was going to prolong her life.
Ms Toohill, who also has a three-year-old daughter, Catherine, with her husband Robert, 42, told the Record she has learnt to live with her diagnosis and make every second count.
A year later, she and her one-year-old son ‘have a wonderful relationship.’
She added: ‘I loved Fraser so much, I wanted to be with him.
‘But I didn’t want to bond with him because I thought that if I was going to die, then it would kinder on him if he hadn’t got to know me.
‘I thought the right thing was to spend time with my daughter Catherine, who knew me already and would have memories with me.
‘So while my husband spent time with Fraser every day, I hardly ever went to the hospital to visit him.’
Hannah Toohil with husband Robert, daughter Catherine, three, and son Fraser, one
One year on, the cancer is in remission, and though it will return one day, Ms Toohill doesn’t allow it to rule her life.
She told the Record: ‘It could be in six months or in six years – there is no way to predict.
‘I’m enjoying living my life, doing as much with my children as I possibly can. I know how precious life is and I don’t intend to waste a minute.’