FUNDRAISER: My ‘incredible and beautiful’ mum is battling cancer for the second time in five years, says Burnley woman
She’s an “incredible and beautiful” mum who has had to battle cancer twice in just five years.
Mum-of-two Shel Baldwin has been forced to give up work as a school dinner lady due to being diagnosed with an incurable form of bone cancer last week - with the news coming three days before her 54th birthday. It also comes just five years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Now her daughter, from Burnley, is spreading awareness of a fundraising campaign set up to help Shel afford the cost of living over winter while she waits for disability support.
Mica Fifield (27) said: “She’s incredible and beautiful. I’m not even biased because she’s my mum – all my friends love her.”
The 54-year-old underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a double mastectomy after discovering she had breast cancer, with Mica saying: “She didn’t cry or complain. Even during chemotherapy, she was helping out her sister who is paralysed and has brain damage from being knocked over at 16. I am chronically ill and if I have a pain flare up at 3am she’ll pick up the phone. And she went back to work after the first round of chemo and radiotherapy.”
When Shel was discharged from cancer services in 2019, she was told the disease was likely to return. Six months later, she developed pain in her arm, which then spread to her full body.
Doctors told her it was probably caused by either osteoporosis, or having previously had chemotherapy. But when the pain became so bad she could no longer walk, she convinced medics to look further into it, and she had a blood test, plus hip and spine scans, with the results delivering the devastating news.
“She begged them to check, and it turned out it was bone cancer,” said Mica.
"When we found out we were super upset then angry. I feel like the NHS forgot about her. She had pain for around two years, and they could have contained the cancer. They can manage it but can’t get rid of it.”
Shel is now taking morphine for the pain, and is soon to start both radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Mica hopes her family’s fundraising can help make Shel as comfortable as possible and take at least one worry away from her.
“It’s just to help her out because she’s always helping other people out. She’s one of the most amazing and kind people I’ve ever known. She’s so strong. I’ll ring her everyday to check if she’s OK. She says she’s fine and not to worry. We’re crying and she’s the one comforting us.
“Before she got her spine results, she was scared but as soon as she got the diagnosis she said, ‘I’ve done it once’.
“I can’t imagine being that strong. Even on her birthday she was positive. She’s always been the strong mum we look up to. She doesn’t understand how much strength it takes to be positive, or how amazing she is.”