A mum-of-four diagnosed with terminal cancer has written emotional letters to her four children for them to open when they are 21..
Leah Gunn has cervical cancer but it has now unfortunately spread to her bones meaning she has no long-term chance of survival.
The 32-year-old from Edinburgh is blaming her terminal cancer on a series of mistakes by NHS Lothian, reports Edinburgh Live.
And while she is currently on a drug trial, which she hopes may extend her life for a few years, Leah knows her chance of seeing all her children grow up and have kids of their own is unlikely in the extreme, reports the Daily Record.
Instead she has to content herself by penning letters for Morgan, 15, Gary, 11, Nathan, six, and 18-month-old Zac to open ontheir 21st birthdays.
She is also making the delicate shawls.
But the hardest thing Leah had to do was sit her children down and tell them she was going to die.
She said: “It was really difficult to tell them but they have got counsellors at school now.
“But it is horrible, especially when my daughter talks about having a child when she’s older. She tells me, ‘I need my mum, who’s going to be there, who is going to help me?’
“I have started to knit and crochet Morgan a shawl for her first baby. I am planning to do shawls for all of my children for when they have their own first child because I won’t be there.”
And she urged young women to go for smear tests in the hope of preventing what has happened to her.
She said: “I always went for a smear test but I was pregnant with Zac when my smear was due so I was almost a year over my time.”
Smear tests are done every three years after a woman turns 25 but Leah believes the intervals are too long and women should have them earlier.
“They say there is no need for smears under 25 because you are unlikely to get it under that age but clearly that isn’t true. The age needs to be lowered because children are sexually active a lot younger now.”
Leah’s ordeal began when she was pregnant with Zac in 2019. She was told her cancer was stage one and prepared to have a hysterectomy in March 2020.
But she explained: “When they opened me up, they discovered the cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes. They removed 16. They didn’t give me a hysterectomy because they said they were doing that to prevent it spreading but as it had already spread there was no point.
“I still think they should have done it.”
After weeks of treatment she was initially given the all-clear before being told the cancer was still there.
And on December 15 last year she received the devastating news that it was now terminal. She said: “Within four months of me being given the all-clear, I had terminal cancer. It had spread to my bones so they said there was nothing more they could do.”
She switched consultants and has now had chemotherapy and is on a drug trial in the desperate hope of having more time with partner Gary, 31, and her children.
Leah said: “My cancer is stable just now. It has not grown but it has not shrunk either.”
And she admitted: “My oldest son starts high school after the summer. I worry about getting to see that day.”
Dr Tracey Gillies, Medical Director, NHS Lothian, said: “I would like to express our sympathy and apologise for the distress Ms Gunn and her family are experiencing at this devastating time. This was a rapid and sudden progression, which unfortunately can be in keeping with this type of cancer.”
Leah’s best friend Kimberley Mallis has started a Gofundme page for her so the family can enjoy a memory-making final holiday.
Leah said: “It was such a surprise when she did it but it was so nice of her. We’d love to get away to Spain, somewhere with a water park for the children.”