Emma's story: A London mum's battle with Grade 4 brain cancer
Being a mum is hard. Being a solo mum is hard. Being a solo mum who has just been diagnosed with brain cancer is unfathomable. But this is the reality Emma Postance, 42-year-old mummy to 2-year-old Alice, is living through right now. This is her story.
About Emma and Alice
At the age of 40 Emma, a banker from London, set out on her solo mum journey (by choice via a sperm donor) and beautiful baby Alice was born in 2021. The journey to motherhood was not an easy one for Emma, having suffered miscarriages in the past, so she decided to to make her dreams of becoming a mum come true via sperm donation and IUI during the pandemic. Sadly, round one in July 2020 didn't work, but round two saw Alice Matilda arrive via C-section in April 2021. Emma's lovely mum was her birth partner, and Emma and Alice moved in with Emma's parents when little Alice was 3.5 months old so that they could help their daughter raise their granddaughter. Emma always knew she wanted, more than anything, to be a mum, and her choice to do it without a partner is rooted in her belief that, "A family doesn't have to mean mum and dad. It can mean grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins too." With the arrival of Alice, life was wonderful.
While on holiday in Spain in 2022 Emma started having headaches, which she initially put down to the exhaustion of being a new mum. Doctors did, however, arrange for a scan in October 2022 to check that her increasing migraines, that also came with some confusion, were connected to her Multiple Sclerosis, which she was diagnosed with in her early 20s. That MRI scan brought the devastating news of a brain tumour which would require surgery and further investigation. The National Neuro Hospital in London performed a craniotomy on Emma during November and it was an anxious wait for the results. A Grade 4 Glioblastoma (GBM), one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, was diagnosed to a heartbroken Emma and her family. This type of tumor grows very fast inside the brain, and while it has been removed for now, it will come back. While it rarely spreads to other parts of the body, only around 5.6% of affected adults survive for five years after diagnosis. It was the worst possible news.
Treatment and prognosis
Emma's treatment - an intense course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy - were started soon after diagnosis in the hope of extending her life for as long as possible. Tragically, there is no cure for this evil disease, a type of cancer that affects around 2,200 Brits every year. Whilst the treatment she is receiving will give Emma some extra time with her precious little girl, her life expectancy has been suggested by Doctors to be around two years. Emma says: “It is horrific thinking that my daughter won’t grow up with a parent,” but also adds that having Alice is something she will, “Never, ever regret. She is my little miracle and I adore her.”
Obviously, Emma and her family have been looking into other kinds of treatment that might help to extend her life but sadly, here in the UK, advanced treatment options are limited. There is the chance of immunotherapy giving Emma some extra time with her daughter, but that treatment path is not available here and she would need to travel to Germany or the USA for the immunotherapy vaccines she needs. These extra precious moments for Emma and Alice come with a big price ticket though: around £50,000 to £250,000.
How can we help?
Emma is one of life's absolute treasures and what has happened to her is unbelievably cruel and unfair. We've been lucky enough to have known Emma for years (she used to work with Mr. London for Kidz) and she deserves every fighting chance to help ensure her daughter has as many memories as possible of her mummy. It is Emma's love for Alice that is keeping her so strong and so brave despite this cruel cancer. If you would like to help then please do consider donating any pennies or pounds that you can afford: every single donation will go towards giving Emma the best chance of more time.
Alternatively, there is a charity football match being held on 2nd June 2023 in Southampton where ticket sales go directly towards Emma's treatment fund. Tickets are £10 each and can be purchased right here.
Thank you for reading Emma’s story, and if you are not able to donate right now, then do consider sharing her story. She says, "If this treatment overseas can give me just a few more months or years, it would mean everything. If I last two years, Alice will be three-and-a-half. I just want her to be able to remember me, and the older she is, the more chance I have of that.”
To donate to Emma’s therapy, please visit:
All photography courtesy of Emma Postance.