A brave 36-year-old mother of two has been left “distraught” after being diagnosed with the aggressive 'triple negative' breast cancer for the second time just before Christmas last year.

Before being diagnosed the first time in 2022, Stacey Withington, who lives in Deane, had not long given birth to daughter Sophia via C-Section in June, all whilst completing her Master’s degree in positive psychology.

Triple negative breast cancer means that the cancer cells don't have estrogen or progesterone receptors, and also do not  make any or produce too much of the protein called HER2. 

It is considered more aggressive than other breast cancers and spreads more quickly.

Stacey began chemotherapy and underwent a different type of the treatment each week, for approximately five or six months.

She says that the very thought of having to endure chemotherapy again is “ripping apart” her heart that she was “trying to mend”.

The Bolton News: During her graduation in 2022 with her son Jamie and partner Lee WhelanDuring her graduation in 2022 with her son Jamie and partner Lee Whelan (Image: Public)She said: “I was honestly distraught.

“I’d just fought this once and it was so hard.

“I was so poorly, and it was so long-winded.

“You feel restricted in everything you do, every decision you make for yourself.

“Knowing that I’ve got to do it all over again is ripping apart a heart that I was trying to mend.”

When Stacey was diagnosed the first time around, the breast cancer was in both her breasts, but this time the cancer has returned to her right breast in a different area.

The Bolton News: Stacey showing off her scars after breast cancer treatmentStacey showing off her scars after breast cancer treatment (Image: Public)Stacey will soon undergo five months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy.

Stacey says that the hardest parts of chemotherapy are the “ugly parts” her partner Lee sees when she has daily injections, and her hair starts to fall out as she brushes it.

Her one-year-old daughter Sophia Whelan and six-year-old Jamie Whelan also see the physical changes but are not able to understand what it means yet.

She said: “It doesn’t just impact me.

“It’d be easier if it did.

“It affects my family.

The Bolton News: “My partner who sees all the ugly parts of chemo where my bones hurt through daily injections and my hair begins to fall out as I brush it.

“My children can see the physical changes but cannot understand it all for being so young.

“We do our best to protect them for the emotional distress so they can still be children.”

Stacey “welcomes” having a mastectomy due to it reducing the chances of the cancer returning during what is a “tough fight”, but says she is thinking about reconstructive surgery.

She added: “I keep telling myself I can do hard things as I’d want my children to adopt that mindset too.

“I’m currently thinking of options with reconstructive surgery, maybe a new pair of boobs for my birthday this year.

“You have to seek the positives.”

The family have since set a GoFundMe fundraiser up to help Stacey and her family with the financial burden, whilst Stacey is unable to work during her treatment.

The Bolton News: Stacey and her partner Lee WhelenStacey and her partner Lee Whelen (Image: Public)Stacey will not be receiving any sick pay due to being self-employed as a counsellor, and she said worrying about finances on top of her illness is “emotionally destroying”.

Stacey said: “With me experiencing this twice now, it restricts the support we have.

“For example, I was completely unaware that some of the small charity grants are only accessible once in within two years.

“My partner spent time off work for the first fight and now won’t be supported financially again as he hasn’t been back for 12 months yet.

“As you can imagine this, on top of knowing what’s coming again is emotionally destroying for us. “Not only have we got to go through it all again, but now with even less support because of when it came back.

“Who chooses when to get cancer?

“I’ve worked since being 16, and now I need help.

The Bolton News: Sharing the great news after finishing chemotherapy following her last diagnosis in 2022Sharing the great news after finishing chemotherapy following her last diagnosis in 2022 (Image: Public)“It’s upsetting that I have limited access.

“Luckily for me I have incredible friends and family around me and I couldn’t fight this again without them in my corner.

“Rallying around to help me with the kids if I have to work and raising funds.

“I was nominated to win £30 for a takeaway on social media, I had to use it to buy my child school shoes.

“They come first always, they’re why I fight so hard and still smile and still push myself, because I’ve got two kids watching me and me and their dad are their role models.

The Bolton News: “It’s important to rest, feel and process, but always get back up, despite the odds, always fight for yourself and that’s what I hope to do.”

Stacey has since started vlogging her experience at hospital and how she has been feeling, with hopes of spreading awareness, particularly for young women, on Facebook.

Click here (www.gofundme.com/f/axhfb-stacey-vs-cancer-round-two) to help support Stacey and her family during this difficult time.

If you have a story and something you would like to highlight in the community, please email me at jasmine.jackson@newsquest.co.uk or DM me on Twitter @JournoJasmine.