A loving Lincoln mum to two miraculous ‘twins’ born three years apart through an IVF has been given just weeks to live.
In August, single mum Samantha McConnell, 46, was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic and liver cancer, only four weeks after noticing symptoms.
Doctors suspected the mum had gall stones, but an ultrasound scan revealed a dark mass growing around her liver and lungs.
Her children Grace, five, and two-year-old Rory were conceived at the same time through IVF, using Samantha’s egg and sperm from a Danish donor.
After falling pregnant with Grace, the leftover embryos were frozen and put into storage. Three years later, Samantha used the thawed-out embryos and fell pregnant with Rory.
Fundraising mission for children’s future
Friends are now crowdfunding to raise money for the youngsters who face a future without their mum.
Samantha, a retired RAF officer who lives in Lincoln said: “Telling Grace I’m dying of cancer and it will be soon, but I don’t know when, has to be the most awful thing I have done in my life. Rory knows something sad is happening but he’s too young to fully understand.
“I’ve reassured the children that although they won’t see me, I’ll always be there. Whenever Grace sees a butterfly or what she thinks is an angel or a fairy, that will be me.
“Or when she has an itchy nose it will be me who is picking it. I know the children will be loved and I want them to know they will never be alone.
“I don’t plan to give up without a fight but life expectancy for someone with pancreatic cancer is around six-eight weeks. I don’t know what stage I am in because I only noticed symptoms a month ago.
“There’s a five per cent chance a miracle might happen, and I might live longer. I can only hope I’m one of the five per cent.
“Life can be very cruel because all I ever wanted was to be a good mum and see my children grow into adults.”
Samantha, who has always been fit and healthy, first noticed a pain in her rib cage, darker urine and itchy skin.
She made an appointment with her GP and blood tests revealed her liver wasn’t working properly.
She was referred to Lincoln County Hospital for an ultrasound to check for gall stones.
She explained: “A few days before the scan I woke up in the middle of the night with a sharp pain under my rib cage. I went back to the doctors and was admitted to hospital the same day.
“They still thought it was gall stones but the scan showed a dark mass around my liver and lungs. I was sent for a CT scan which confirmed my worst fears. I had pancreatic cancer and it had spread to my liver and lymph nodes.
“I felt numb as the doctors explained nothing could be done. There was no option to have surgery or chemotherapy because the cancer was too advanced.”
Now, Samantha is making the most of every precious moment she has left with her young children.
“All I want to do is put all my energy into holding and cuddling my miracle babies,” she says.
“They’re really close and Grace is a protective big sister, so it brings me some comfort knowing they will always have each other because they share the most amazing bond.
“Life is for living and my situation shows how we should never put off things we’ve always wanted to do. Listen to people who want to talk and tell friends and family they’re loved.
“A few days ago, Grace looked at the stars and made a wish that nobody had cancer. She asks me if she can take it all away.
“I am grateful for each day I have left with my two beautiful, healthy children. I will stay at home for as long as I am well enough, but my plan is to move into a hospice, where Grace and Rory can visit.
“Until then, we will have lots of fun together, watching films, singing and laughing. I want their lasting memories of me to be nothing but happy ones.”