Mother Dying From Cancer Reveals She's Glad Her Children May Not Remember Her
Nearly every mother-to-be will dream of bonding with their baby, thinking about their first moments together, how they will raise their child and what sort of person they will become.
However, this isn't always the case - and for one mother the choice was been heartbreaking. Does she spend what time she has left with her babies or does she spare them the pain of grieving, at the expense of not bonding?
Kim Debling, 34, who may have just months to left to live, is glad that her daughter Rose, one, and son Harvey, six months, won't be able to remember her - saying 'no Disney character ever became a hero without losing a parent'.
The former RAF air traffic controller is currently battling stage four Cutaneous T-Cell lymphoma, which has left her virtually unrecognisable.
Her face has been ravaged with red lumps following the devastating discovery that the rare cancer she battled during her first pregnancy has returned, with doctors branding it incurable.
Kim, who said the stage four Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma makes her feel like a 'monster', has been told she has months left to live - unless she can undergo a pioneering stem cell transplant.
However doctors warn she is currently too unwell to go through with the procedure, which could give her another five years - even though a donor has been found.
Kim, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, said: "I know Rose and Harvey won't remember me, and that's a good thing.
"No Disney character ever became a hero without losing a parent, but in a way, I don't want the kids to get to know me, so I can save them the terrible loss."
Talking about the decision not to bond with her children, Kim added: "I wonder what my children will think of me, and what conclusions they will draw about me when I am gone.
"But I still want to be the best mum I can ever be, no matter how long I have left."
Desperate to become parents, Kim and her RAF pilot husband Steve, 32, began trying for a baby soon after their wedding day.
But after a year and a half with no success, the pair, who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, were referred for IVF on the NHS.
After just one round, Kim fell pregnant in November 2015.
With her mind focused on her baby, she thought nothing of it when she noticed a red rash around her waist. She casually mentioned it to her GP during a routine appointment about her pregnancy a few weeks later.
She explained: "We could not have been happier to be expecting our first baby.
"We had waited for so long for it to happen that the red patches were the last thing on my mind.
"But when I finally saw the GP I did mention it, as it had spread to the tops of my thighs.
"I was given some cream for it, thinking it was just a nasty rash, as well as being referred to a dermatologist."
In March 2016, Kim met with a skin specialist at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital and had a biopsy of her skin taken.
Convinced she was just suffering with dermatitis, a type of eczema, she tried not to worry.
But in May 2016, when she was 24 weeks pregnant, doctors broke the heartbreaking news that she actually had cancer.
She recalled: "When I heard the word 'lymphoma' I was completely devastated.
"They told me I had a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affects the skin, where the symptoms are a raised rash or itchy patches of skin, lumps on the skin and swollen lymph nodes.
"My only saving grace was that it was stage one, meaning it wasn't aggressive, so they could treat the skin directly with light treatments."
After that, Kim had ultraviolet B treatment, which involves standing in a sunbed-style booth, at Basingstoke's hospital.
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Having a session twice a week, she kept going until a fortnight before Rose arrived at the end of August 2016.
Most would be getting used to night feeds, catching up with friends and, these days, posting a million pictures on social media.
But following the birth, the new mum then had 40 sessions of PUVA treatment - another form of UV light therapy, which she was confident had been successful.
Kim said: "When Rose was born it was the most incredible moment. She was a gorgeous girl and I felt so positive about the future.
"I knew the cancer could spread and come back, but I really felt I had got away with it."
In a bid to ensure she was treated as thoroughly as possible, Kim began a course of radiotherapy in February 2017.
But soon after her last session, she became pregnant again - this time naturally.
She said: "We'd always wanted a big family and children close together in age, so I could not have been happier when I found out I was expecting Harvey."
Tragically though, Kim's elation was short-lived, as the day after she had taken the positive pregnancy test, she felt a lump in her groin.
She was sent for an ultrasound and biopsy straight away and in July 2017, she was told that the cancer had returned, had spread to her lymph nodes and was not curable. And on top of that she was 16 weeks pregnant.
Kim said: "Me and Steve were new parents. We had another one on the way. Our new life together should have been just beginning.
"The idea of leaving him as a single dad crushed me. He deserves someone to love and he deserves to be loved.
"It's not what any of us had planned for our lives. I wanted to be a proud parent with Steve, see our kids grow up - not leave him to do it all alone.
"I never considered terminating the pregnancy as I was desperate to meet my second child.
"I was never told my pregnancy hormones would definitely accelerate the cancer, though in hindsight it may have been the case."
In the wake of her diagnosis, Kim was warned she only had months left to live if a stem cell transplant doesn't work and more than five years if it does.
Her radiotherapy was put on hold and she started an 18-week course of CHOP chemotherapy, which is used to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma and is suitable for pregnant patients.
She only stopped for the birth of Harvey in October last year.
Kim said: "It was gruelling. Not only was I pregnant but I had the toxic chemo drugs going through my body, leaving me weaker and weaker.
"But when I had Harvey, I actually forgot all about the disease. In that moment I was a mum again, not a woman with cancer. I felt on top of the world."
Soon after the birth, Kim's treatment regime resumed, meaning she was unable to breastfeed her baby boy.
Currently undergoing radiotherapy, she will begin chemotherapy next week in the hope that will make her well enough for a stem cell transplant, for which a match has already been found.
A few weeks ago, scores of angry red lumps began to spring up all over her face and body, but thankfully, they have since shrunk following targeted radiotherapy to her face.
Kim, who has set up a business called Kestrel Design, which covers branding and graphics, as well as documenting her cancer journey online, said: "Without a stem cell transplant I could have just months left to live, and with it up to five years, but I am trying to remain positive.
"My life is actually one of real joy and happiness despite my cancer diagnosis - in fact I believe it has been a trigger to focus me in a really positive way. I am glad I was diagnosed with cancer.
"My children are my life, my husband is the best man in the world. My life itself is wonderful."
Featured Image Credit: PA Real Life