A mum who was given a terminal cancer diagnosis six years ago is celebrating after undergoing breast reconstruction surgery that doctors said would NEVER happen.
Heidi Loughlin, 38, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive stage four inflammatory breast cancer while pregnant in 2015 and told to prepare for the worst.
But Heidi, a former police officer who runs a world-famous blog Storm in a Tit Cup, has never given up fighting and has surpassed all medical predictions.
And she has now taken her recovery one step further by having reconstructive surgery that she was told would never be an option for her.
She underwent the operation called a DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator), that involves transplanting fat, tissue and skin from the stomach to make a breast, on Tuesday. (July 13)
And in an update to her tens of thousands of followers, she said the operation had been a success and she had "never felt more alive."
Speaking today (Thurs) Heidi, of Portishead, Bristol, said: "When I was diagnosed, I was informed that reconstruction wasn't an option.
"This is due to the nature of inflammatory breast cancer with a prognosis of two to five years and stage four patients being at the diarist end of the scale.
"In short, I wasn't expected to live long enough for reconstruction. The mastectomy you have with a inflammatory breast cancer is different to the more conventional cancers we know about. I had to have all the skin, tissue and nipple removed so there is no room for an implant."
For the past six years, Heidi has documented her experiences on her award-winning blog that she set up to help others like her.
She marked the milestone of surgery by posting on her social media on Tuesday (July 13): "Done! Today is the day I was told would never come.
"Getting reconstruction with #stage4 inflammatory breast cancer just doesn't happen.
"Statistically I should be long dead, but I've never been more alive."
Heidi was three months' pregnant when she was first diagnosed and ignored doctor's recommendations to have an abortion, turning down super-strong life-saving treatment until her baby had a 90 per cent chance of surviving.
Baby Ally Louise Smith was born 12 weeks early via c-section on December 12, 2015 - but tragically passed away eight days later after developing an infection.
Heidi, from Portishead, Bristol, who is also mum to Noah and Tait, has gone on to win a legion of fans online for her up-front and brutally honest blog about her disease.
She had a mastectomy in 2016 and her tumours shrunk after receiving a life-extending drug Kadcyla, disappearing altogether in 2019.
But doctors have always warned that they could come back and she continues to have chemotherapy every three weeks.
She added: "There is a risk with surgery that tiny bits of cancer can be activated which is why I have waited five years for this surgery.
"It suddenly became an option. I spoke with an IBC expert on American who supported me in going ahead with surgery and here I am.
"Having a reconstruction was never an option for me. I am doing so well that it's another step further away from cancer and will blaze a trail for others in my situation that are thinking about the procedure.
"My chemotherapy treatment will carry on as normal, which I have every three weeks. I'm having an extra week's break this time to put more distance between the surgery and the chemo to reduce complications."
In a video released after her surgery, Heidi thanked her supporters for helping her through her cancer journey.
She told them: "I am genuinely feel amazing after my operation.
"Thank you so much for all your amazing support. I am currently in recovery, on the good drugs and just feel amazing to have had this surgery that I never thought was going to happen and which I was told was never going to happen.
"It's one step to making cancer even smaller."
Heidi added that her blog had been a great source of comfort throughout.
She said: "My blog Storm in a Tit Cup has been a huge cathartic release for me.
"When I was diagnosed I went online to find someone who was like me.
"A young woman at 32 with inflammatory breast cancer and I was also pregnant.
"There was no one. And most of the blogs I found about other breast cancers were factual or depressing and not what I wanted to read.
"So I decided to write my own. I receive messages from people around the world thanking me for the blog which I find incredibly uplifting that it is helping others.
"Sadly my daughter died when she was eight days old so my blog has morphed into many things over the years, but largely it's a place for people to be inspired that no matter what adversity we face, we can overcome it or learn to live with it in our lives."
Heidi said that despite all the trauma she has gone through, she has never stopped thinking about a future and making plans.
She added: "I never stopped looking to the future. From the word cancer, I have strived not to become what I was told I become.
"I have always made far reaching plans and will continue to do so. Having plans are basically targets for you to sail pass.
"I've already smashed my prognosis and won't be going anywhere for a really long time.
"That's another reason why I was happy to take time out to have the operation as I tell myself I'll live until I'm 100.
"And if I'm wrong, I'm wrong… but no ones coming back to rub that in my face. Let go of the things you cannot control and take control of what you can. That's my mantra and I'm sticking to it."
To view her blog visit http://storminatitcup.blogspot.co.uk/