BY TOBY PORTER
A mum-of-four has realised her dream of becoming a published author – but she has done it despite having triplets and a fourth child, and having twice been struck by breast cancer.
Emma Campbell, 47, of Spencer Park, near Clapham Junction, will have her memoir published on Thursday (August 9) as she still undergoes treatment to prevent the tumours returning.
Her memoir, All That Followed, is published by Mirror Books almost five years after she started writing it – and three years after her cancer returned.
She also split from the father of her children between the two bouts of the disease.
The first-time author has already been told the first print run of her book looks like selling out.
“It is a dream come true to be published,” said Emma, whose son is 15 and whose triplets, two boys and a girl, are eight. “I made time to write. I was diagnosed with breast cancer six months after the triplets weree born – the tumour was five centimetres across.
“I didn’t notice the changes because of the fertility treatment I had had and the stress.
“I just assumed it was the hormone therapty. And with three babies, there was not much time to eat.”
She had a mastectomy, reconstruction, her lymph nodes removed, chemotherapy, radiotherapty and drugs to stop a recurrence.
Her friends and neighbours rallied round. They divided the tasks, fed her, cleaned up for her – and eventually brought in Peter Andre and the 60 Minute Makeover team, who left her with new carpets and a new man.
She tried online dating and later met one of the carpet fitters, Dave, and they were married two years ago.
But the cancer came back almost four years ago – when she had just started dating him.
She had to have chemotherapty for a second time – eight cycles over six months. She is still having IV drugs at the Royal Marsden every three weeks and hormone medication which has bounced her into an early menopause.
Emma, who had penned two short plays in her 20s, started writing a blog and had worked part-time at a literary agency. One of their top agents, John Elek, saw it 18 months ago and suggested she write some chapters.
“I was excited that he believed in me,” she said. “Even with four kids and my new husband, and the hospital visits, I had been given a chance.
“Writing has always been such a joy, even about the tough stuff, or when I was depressed.
“Everything has to take a back seat when you have a first child. I put my writing dream away in a box. ‘That will never be me,’ I thought.
“But I started blogging when I became a single parent with triplets – and got lovely feedback.
“It was hard to write after the second diagnosis because I felt so devastated and terrified. It is tough to write about the darkest days until after they are past.
“But I do write a lot about the anxiety. Your body bounces back, but the emotional rebound is harder.
“I had to be a mum and not let thoughts of illness and death domiante. It is hard to write when you are trying to keep everything else afloat.”
Her first partner left within months of the triplets being born. “It was less than ideal,” she said. “Two years after our first baby, I had wanted a second and I had several miscarriages. After four years of trying, by some miracle, the triplets happened with the first round of IVF.
“But my baby obsession consumed me and it consumed us. It was a situation I had never imagined myself in.
“After four years on my own, I was in a really good place and had to push myself to make the step so I tried a bit of hideous online dating and it was lovely. It was extremely tempting not to approach it at all. To stay home, stay safe and wrapped up warm with no risk of rejection or scrutiny.
“The belief that no one would want to get involved with ‘someone like me’ was deeply entrenched. At what point when you’re getting to know someone do you mention the cancer, four kids and crippling anxiety?
“But I’m glad I did. Dave has been by my side since the word go.”
See Emma’s blog at www.meandmyfour.com or @emplus4 on instagram.
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