Jackie Page, 51, from Southampton was devastated when her daughter Amber was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the muscle. Brave Amber battled through chemotherapy to be a bridesmaid at Jackie's wedding, and here the proud mum shares her daughter's story....
"Mum I've got a lump on my chest," said my 12-year-old daughter Amber, rubbing a spot on her chest, just below her collar bone. "Here, let me have a look," I said, pulling her towards me. I rubbed my finger over it. It was a small pea sized lump underneath the skin.
I took her to see our GP, who said it was probably hormonal, and to come back in a few weeks if it had grown any bigger. We went home not worrying about it. But a few weeks later, the lump was bigger. We went back to the doctor and he referred Amber for a scan at Southampton General Hospital. He told us that it was probably a cyst and nothing to worry about.
Doctors at the hospital took a biopsy of the lump and eight weeks later we got the most devastating news we could ever have imagined.
The consultant took me to one side. "I'm afraid it's cancer," he told me gently. I just stared at him in shock. It was only a lump on her chest, it couldn't possibly be cancer. She was only 12 years old.
I just couldn't believe Amber had cancer, not my little girl. She had been tired recently
, but we had just put it down to all the dancing she did. Amber had always loved dancing, and ever since she was a little girl she had always been to dancing classes several times a week.
It was a rare cancer of the muscle - Amber had just been extremely unlucky to have it.
I had to break the news to her. It was the worst thing that a mum could ever have to tell her daughter. "It's not what they thought it was," I whispered to her, holding her close. "You have a tumour."
"Do you mean I've got cancer?" she said. I nodded, not knowing what I couldn't say to make it better. She just burst into tears. She was so scared and frightened that she was going to die.
It was the most devastating thing, all I could do was hold her and promise her that she would be alright. Deep down I just had to hope I was right.
Amber had been due to be my bridesmaid seven months after her diagnosis. My partner Nigel and I had met three years previously though a friend and had hit it off. I had been single and Nigel had been widowed three years previously. He and his daughters Zoe, 14, Catherine, 26, and Claire, 25, had had to manage on their own.
When Nigel proposed, Amber had been thrilled. "I can't wait to be your bridesmaid, mum," she kept saying. Nigel and I decided to postpone our wedding. When I got married I wanted my daughter by my side, in a bridesmaids dress. I wasn't going to get married without her.
She was determined to get better. She wanted to be my bridesmaid and it wasn't going to stop her.
Amber had to start gruelling chemotherapy treatment. Luckily tests showed the cancer had been caught early and that it hadn't spread. But the treatment was so aggressive that she was very poorly. She was constantly being sick and kept complaining of a sore mouth, jaw pain and pains in her arms and legs. She lost her hair and her eyebrows too.
We went out and bought a wig and she called it 'my other hair.' She had surgery to remove the lump in May last year, followed by radiotherapy and then more chemotherapy.
Our wedding plans kept her going. I brought in brochures, and together we sat on her hospital bed making plans. She had a goal - and that was to be a bridesmaid for me. It was the one thing that kept her focused on getting better.
We planned the wedding for October, and two weeks before the big day, we got the best news that we could ever have hoped for. Amber was in remission and the cancer had gone.
Two weeks later Nigel and I got married, and I was surrounded by my five bridesmaids - Amber and four other family members. She looked absolutely amazing in her beautiful lilac dress.
Amber is doing really well now and I'm so proud of her. She was given a special day out to visit the Royal Ballet recently, organised by Make A Wish Foundation
. Ballet has always been the love of Amber's life, and she just loves dancing.
When we were given the news that she had cancer, our world fell apart and I wondered whether I would ever see my brave daughter dance again. But she was so determined to get better, she never let anything hold her back.
Being a bridesmaid gave her that goal to work for. She was determined that I wasn't going to get married without her, and I think that was the best medicine she could have had.
Words: Lucy Laing at Worldwide Features
More on Parentdish: Teenager thought she was allergic to eye make-up, but it was cancer
- Miracle baby survives six months of chemo in the womb
Mum Stephanie Papworth was 12 weeks pregnant when she was <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/pregnancy-and-birth/the-miracle-baby-who-survived-six-months-of-chemotherapy-in-his-mother-womb-after-she-refused-abortion/" target="_blank">diagnosed with breast cancer.</a> Determined to give her baby a fighting chance, she refused an abortion, and baby Gabriel endured months of chemo, but was born healthy. Stephanie has now also been given the all clear after 12 months of treatment, and is now enjoying life with her new son.</p>
- Daughter's love letters help mum beat breast cancer
When doctors told Laura Binder that there was nothing they could do to save her from breast cancer, there was one person who refused to give up on her. <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/mum/linzis-miracle-love-letters-daughters-letters-to-sick-mum-help-beat-cancer-remission/" target="_blank">Her daughter Linzi wrote her mum a letter full of love and support </a>every day during her seven months of treatment. The mum of two has now amazed doctors by recovering from the cancer which had spread to her liver, and says it’s all down to Linzi’s love letters: “She was determined that I wasn't going to die and I was going to get better. And her wonderful letters have helped a miracle happen.”</p>
- Brave Ellie plays football without arms and legs
Ellis Challis might have lost both her arms and legs to meningitis, but she certainly isn’t letting it slow her down. The brave six-year-old learnt to walk on prosthetic legs, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/kids/girl-of-the-match-brave-ellie-plays-football-without-arms-and-legs/" target="_blank">and now plays football for her school</a> - showing all the boys how it’s done! "It is fantastic to see Ellie playing football. When she lost her legs to meningitis we never imagined that one day she would be playing football for her school team,” says Ellie’s mum, Lisa. “All the other children are able bodied, but she keeps up with all the other team members. To think that she has prosthetic legs yet plays football for her school is just remarkable.”</p>
- Six-year-old boy beats meningitis every year of his life
Brave Seamus Rafferty has beaten the killer brain bug meningitis <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/kids/seamus-rafferty-six-astounds-doctors-by-beating-meningitis-every-year-of-life/" target="_blank">six times in just six years.</a> The little lad has been left with epilepsy and a tremor in his hands, but has luckily escaped any brain damage. Since Seamus’ last recovery, doctors have discovered, and closed up, a small hole in his skull which they think had been letting the virus into his brain. They are hopeful that Seamus, and his mum, Caoimhe’s nightmare is now over.</p>
- Miracle baby was worth every penny
This is the longed-for baby who cost her parents <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/01/08/our-miracle-baby-cost-us-40-000-but-she-is-worth-every-penny/ " target="_blank">£40,000 to bring into this world</a>. Baby Alice is Karen and Gary McLaren’s pride and joy, following six failed rounds of IVF. The couple’s fertility treatment was so costly, that Gary’s dad actually sold his house to help fund the couple’s bid to be parents. After the safe arrival of little Alice, the couple say every penny was worth it.</p>
- Baby boys born at 24 weeks are most premature triplets to have survived in Britain
Meet Max, Harvey and Lucas, three very special little boys who are the <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/02/24/baby-boys-born-at-25-weeks-are-most-premature-triplets-to-have-survived-britain/" target="_blank">most premature triplets ever to survive in Britain.</a> The boys were born at 24 weeks and five days, weighing less than 2lb each. After three months in hospital, 12 blood transfusions and an operation to repair a tear in Max’s stomach, the three boys are now finally at home with their proud parents, Rachael and Ashley Udell.</p>
- Medical miracle Ryan is first baby to survive being born with his heart outside his body
Ryan Marquiss wasn’t ever expected to survive when he was <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/kids/medical-miracle-ryan-marquiss-is-the-first-baby-to-survive-born-with-heart-outside-body/" target="_blank">born with his heart outside his body</a>. But the gorgeous little boy fought through the incredibly rare birth defect, and went through 12 major operations to catch up with his peers. Although he might require a heart transplant in the future, at the moment he’s thriving, so much so that his story has been reported in medical journals around the world.</p>
- Twins after nine years and 16,000 miles on fertility treatment
After spending a whopping <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/08/10/twins-after-nine-years-70-000-on-fertility-treatment-and-travelling-16000-miles/" target="_blank">£70,000 on fertility treatment</a>, Rachael and Mark Sadler are finally parents to twins Rebecca and Hazel. The couple reckon they clocked up over 16,000 miles during years of fertility treatment in a bid to be parents, but say every moment of heartache and every penny spent has been worth it now they have their gorgeous twins.</p>
- Twin Finn recovers from brain damage by copying his brother
When four-year-old Finn was diagnosed with a brain tumour, he made a <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/01/25/twin-finn-amazes-doctors-by-copying-brother-to-recover-from-braiin-damage/" target="_blank">remarkable recovery by copying his twin brother, Kian</a>. Finn has amazed doctors and his parents by over-coming mental and physical problems to be developmentally equal to Kian in every department!</p>
- Conjoined twins see each other for the first time
This is the incredible moment conjoined twins <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/09/15/the-look-of-love-conjoined-twins-joshua-and-jacob-spates-see-each-other-first-time/" target="_blank">Joshua and Jacob Spates saw each other for the first time</a>, following pioneering surgery to separate them. For the first six months of their lives, the two boys were conjoined at the base of their spines. Following 13 hours of surgery, the lads can now live independent lives and have been hailed as medical miracles.</p>
- Mum survives four heart attacks and a stroke while giving birth to twins!
New mum George Cormack <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/04/18/mum-survives-four-heart-attacks-and-a-stroke-while-giving-birth-to-twins/" target="_blank">amazingly survived four attacks and a stroke as she gave birth to her twins Oscar and Connie</a>. George almost died when her heart stopped after a bilateral stroke as she gave birth to her first twin, Oscar. Doctors put George in an induced coma to help her recover, and when she finally woke up, she spent three months battling to get back to health, getting to know her twins, and learning to speak again.</p>
- Mum-to-be refuses lung cancer operation to save unborn baby
Mum Daniella Jackson <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/05/15/mum-to-be-refuses-lung-cancer-operation-to-save-unborn-baby/" target="_blank">was left with a heartbreaking choice</a> when doctors discovered she had a cancerous tumour growing in her lung. She was advised to abort her growing baby when she was five months pregnant so doctors could urgently operate on the growing tumour in her left lung. But abortion was never an option for brave Daniella, and she was determined to wait until she gave birth to start treatment. A month later, the new mum underwent a four-hour operation to cut out the tumour and remove half of her lung, and is now making a slow recovery at home with baby Rennae.</p>
- Baby joy for mum who suffered 14 miscarriages, a stillbirth and the death of her two-week-old son
Maria Pridmore <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/03/06/miracle-mia-baby-joy-for-mum-who-suffered-14-miscarriages-a-stillbirth-death-of-son-two-weeks/" target="_blank">lost 16 babies over 13 years.</a> This included the stillbirth of daughter Shannon, and the death of her two-week-old son, Kia. Maria and partner John are now celebrating the birth of their healthy daughter, Mia Shannon, who was born by emergency Caesarean.</p>