Former Real Housewives Of Cheshire star Nermina Pieters-Mekic says being diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer shortly after discovering she was pregnant left her in an unbearable position.
Speaking exclusively to OK!, the 33-year-old explained that she received her devastating diagnosis just a few weeks after taking a positive pregnancy test.
The television star, who is married to West Bromwich Albion footballer Erik, 35, and mum to two-year-old Alaya, was told by doctors earlier this summer that the lump she'd found in her left breast was indeed cancerous.
“I was pregnant when I found out I had cancer, it broke my heart we couldn’t keep the baby – nobody should ever find themselves in that unthinkable position,” she said.
Nermina, who lives with her family in Wilmslow, Cheshire, decided to share her heart-breaking experience to help raise awareness of breast cancer in young women.
She said her own diagnosis – which came just 10 days after her 33rd birthday – wasn't something she expected, even in her "wildest dreams".
“I never in my wildest dreams thought this would happen to me. I never get ill, I eat a good diet, I exercise with my horses, I barely drink, I’m very healthy. But cancer doesn’t discriminate. One in seven women will get breast cancer in their lifetime, and a lot of those will be young women.
“It’s easy to think ‘it won’t happen to me’, but it can happen to anyone – I’m proof of that. I need women to check themselves, and be checked.”
After explaining to doctors that she was pregnant, Nermina learned she would need to have a full mastectomy immediately – something which is still a possibility – and undergo chemotherapy treatment up until 30 weeks of pregnancy, then again immediately after the birth.
Her and Erik, who wed in 2016, were also told other elements of treatments would be ruled out completely, or delayed, due to their implications during pregnancy.
“One night when I couldn’t sleep I sat in Alaya’s nursery. I looked at her height chart on the wall, and thought, ‘What if I’m not here to witness this in a few years? What if I don’t see her grow up?’," Nermina recalled.
"They couldn’t do all the checks [cancer tests] because I was pregnant so I kept thinking, ‘I’ll never forgive myself for not seeing Alaya grow up.’”
The lumps in her left breast were also growing fast and no one else could make the decision on their behalf, so the couple sought various second opinions from other doctors.
“We visited a clinic to see what our options were with the pregnancy. Could the embryo be frozen as it was still so early? Could I freeze my eggs too?"
Nermina continued: "But when we returned to my doctor for a follow-up appointment, he confirmed that in one week, the lump had grown and that delaying the treatment would not be good.”
Thankfully the star, who joined the Real Housewives franchise in 2017, has now had four of her six rounds of chemotherapy and doctors are positive about her prognosis.
“I have to do everything and anything I possibly can to give myself the best chance to beat this because I have a little girl here and she needs me,” she said.
Nermina is donating her fee for this interview to charity
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