Beauty therapist diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer after miscarriage

Laura Strathearn was recovering at home after being told at a 12-week scan that her baby had no heartbeat, when she noticed a prominent blue vein on her right breast

Sarah Ward
Friday 09 December 2022 10:52 GMT
Laura Strathearn
Laura Strathearn (Newsquest Scotland/ SWNS)

A beauty therapist who learned she had aggressive breast cancer after having a miscarriage has told how the tragedy saved her life.

Laura Strathearn, 35, says her unborn child was her ‘guardian angel’.

She was recovering at home after being told at a 12-week scan that her baby had no heartbeat, when she noticed a prominent blue vein on her right breast.

Laura, then aged 33, initially put it down to hormonal changes but after speaking to her husband, Fraser, decided to visit her GP to be checked.

A biopsy confirmed it was stage 3 breast cancer in January 2021 - and that the disease had spread to her lymph nodes..

And she was told if the baby had survived to full-term, she would have needed palliative care due to the aggressive estrogen hormone positive cancer.

Laura said: “My cancer could have gone undetected without the pregnancy.

“I was told if I’d carried to full term I would have been in hospice care after giving birth.

“I like to think of our baby as a guardian angel watching over me.

“We were so excited to start a family, but then we were told I’d suffered a missed miscarriage.

“We were devastated and grieving for the baby we never got the chance to meet.”

Laura said she convinced herself the protruding vein was caused by a drop in hormones, but felt she should have it checked out to be safe.

(Newsquest Scotland/ SWNS)

She said: “I was sent for a biopsy and a few weeks later I received a call asking me to go to Gartnavel Hospital for the results.

“I thought I’d be out in five minutes, so when I was told it was cancer, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“It turns out that our amazing little baby saved my life. I never expected somebody of my age to receive such news.

“I felt like the world stood still and I was in a dream, unsure of how to react.

“The team of amazing consultants and nurses fast-tracked my treatment due to the severity of my illness, and for that, I can never be more grateful.”

Laura, from Shawlands, Glasgow, was put on an intensive treatment plan which saw her receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as undergoing a 10-hour operation to remove the tumour and reconstruct her breast.

She also had to come to terms with losing her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows during the gruelling year-long treatments.

(Newsquest Scotland/ SWNS)

She turned to the charity Maggie’s for support after her diagnosis in January last year and found their stress management course hugely beneficial - as well as helping her to find a way to help others affected by cancer.

Laura said: “I had so much wonderful support from my mum, sister, granny, husband, extended family and friends.

“Everyone rallied round and keep me going when I was at my lowest point.

“To try to stay positive I’d do my make-up for appointments and found ways to create brows and work with the changes to my skin.

“Just taking time to put my face on made me feel better and gave me the confidence to face cancer head-on.

“After about a year of intense treatment, the surgery and the emotional and mental recovery, I took the time to think about how I could use my skills as a force for good and give something back.

“Identity is so integral to our ultimate wellbeing, and I fully came to realise this during my treatment.

“In my days spent at Maggie’s Cancer Centre, I would teach my fellow patients how to draw their brows on and accentuate their eyes through the power of make-up.”

Once Laura’s active treatment ended, she began an affiliation with Maggie’s where patients are referred to her and created a specialist beauty service to provide permanent make-up (PMU) powder brows, a micro pigmentation procedure, and teaching clients to apply make up.

In addition to Laura’s at home base, she has opened ‘Lustre studio’ in East Kilbride, which she co-owns with award-winning make-up artist and best friend Sharon Cuthbert.

Laura still has regular hospital check-ups to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned.

She added: “What I’m doing now is my way of giving something back and helping people during what I know will be one of the hardest struggles they will ever face.

“I can relate to what my clients are experiencing and know exactly how a cancer diagnosis makes you feel.

“Having beaten the disease, I now want to help others and the feedback has been wonderful.

“Just being able to give people tips to feel their best is an absolute privilege.

“I want to stress the importance of knowing and listening to yourself.

“People should check for cues and never leave something to chance.

“Our NHS is an amazing institution and is there to help.

“It is also important to remember that if you are going through treatment or remission, there are services that can help give you that bit of spark and joy, and you can still retain your identity.

“If anyone is looking for that little bit of support, I’m here to help and listen with compassion, understanding and empathy.”

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