Sophie Andrews | Sarcoma UK
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Sophie Andrews

Sophie Andrews and baby daughter Ava

In January 2021, aged 31, and just three months after giving birth to her first child, Sophie Andrews had started her maternity leave. But she found she was fighting for her life when she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer called Ewing sarcoma.

Sophie, from Sidcup in Kent, had felt pain in her side in the last month of her pregnancy but was told by doctors that it was her baby.

She gave birth to Ava in October 2020 but the pain got worse, especially at night. Sophie said: ‘When I fed Ava at night, my side would hurt. Having not had a baby before I firstly put it down to rocking my baby throughout the night. I had night sweats as well. This was at the time of the second lockdown, so I had a Covid test.’

In January 2021, the pain was now more severe and in the daytime as well. She had an ultrasound scan around her liver. ‘I got home and had a phone call asking me to come in with my husband Ryan – that’s not a good sign when they ask someone to come in with you.

‘They said “we’ve found a mass around your liver”. I had a telephone consultation with a specialist, blood test, CT scan. On Wednesday, I had the ultrasound, on Saturday I was told it was sarcoma.’

Sophie recalls the moment she was told she had cancer. ‘I saw a liver specialist who said it was sarcoma. He wrote it down on a piece of paper. I asked “is that cancer?” He said it was.

‘I asked, what does it mean? He said, it’s rare and it’s aggressive, but that it was treatable.

‘I felt petrified, and very scared for my husband and daughter. How do I tell my parents? I was thinking about the impact on those around me.’

Sophie outlined the challenges she faced. ‘Usually you start to wean your baby on to food at six months – I did it at four months, just before I started chemo. I thought I might not be able to do anything after the chemo starts. I was in organised mum mode. But Ava got me through it – my smiley little baby.’

She added: ‘I feared I would not be able to care for Ava. But I had an amazing support network, from my husband and my parents Annette and Martin who live locally.’

After a biopsy, Sophie was told the cancer had not spread. ‘That helped me get through nine months of treatment. I was told to write off the year.’

Sophie had contacted Sarcoma UK on the Monday after her diagnosis. ‘I had been researching sarcoma, Googling. I found Sarcoma UK and the helpline and called it. I spoke to Sam and she was brilliant. I called every day that week and every time when I had a meeting with my medical team.’

Sophie added: ‘They gave emotional and practical help. They helped me to prepare for meetings and to prepare for the side-effects of treatment, for example microblading your eyebrows when you lose your hair.

‘In my mind I worried about being there for Ava’s first birthday or when she starts school. When days were hard I just looked at my baby.’

Sophie was then given the all-clear on a date she will never forget – November 15, 2021.

Sophie and her family started fundraising for Sarcoma UK in 2021 and they have raised more than £32,000 since. Her family ran the Royal Parks half-marathon for the Royal Marsden while Sophie was having treatment. Sophie signed up for the next one and then completed the Three Peaks challenge in September 2023. She plans to run the London Marathon in 2024.

Sophie added: ‘My outlook on life has changed. Life is too short. Enjoy living as much as you can. It is a privilege to get old.’


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