June wedding cheers brave woman who has been fighting cancer

Heather Parkinson with her fiance Patrick Goulden with pet dogs
Heather Parkinson with her fiance Patrick Goulden with pet dogs

Heather Parkinson has spent the last 15 years fighting cancer after first being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 19.

After a rollercoaster time including undergoing a second stem cell transplant, Heather tells AASMA DAY how she is cautiously optimistic for her future and is enjoying happy times and planning her wedding.

Heather Parkinson and her mum Sheila

Heather Parkinson and her mum Sheila

On the day Heather Parkinson left hospital after undergoing her second stem cell transplant for which her mum was the donor, she was thrilled and amazed when her boyfriend Patrick Goulden proposed to her.

Heather, 33, is now planning her upcoming wedding in June and is also enjoying being an auntie to her sister’s twin girls who were born eight months ago.

After the tumultous 15 years Heather has endured, she is enjoying a time of happiness. But after the rollercoaster she has already been through, Heather admits there are times she is anxious and worried as she know things can suddenly change.

Heather, who owns a pet shop in Kirkham, says: “There are lots of nice happy things happening in my life at the moment.

I am cautiously optimistic about the future

“This time last year, I did not know what was going to happen as I was having chemotherapy in preparation for my second stem cell transplant for which my mum was the donor.

“My sister Shelley donated for my bone marrow transplant and when the cancer returned, I was given several infusions of Shelley’s lymphocytes but it reached a point where I had had the maximum dose from Shelley and the only other option was another transplant.”

Heather’s mum Sheila Parkinson donated bone marrow to Heather for the transplant and Heather says words cannot express how grateful she she describes as her “best friend.”

The transplant was a success and when Heather’s boyfriend Patrick proposed on the day she left hospital, she was overjoyed. Heather says: “As soon as I met Patrick, we just clicked and had a connection.

“We have both been through things and just get each other. We are very similar yet very different at the same time.

“My dogs took to him straight away and that is like the ultimate endorsement!”

Heather and Patrick will be getting married at a registry office before having a week long wedding celebration in the Lake District.

Heather says: “We will have a mock ceremony again in the Lakes so people can ‘see’ us get married and we have then hired four cottages so we can all celebrate together.”

As well as looking forward to her marriage, Heather is enjoying being an auntie to her sister Shelley’s twin daughters Felicity and Scarlett who were born in April weighing just 1lb 7oz and 1lb 11oz.

Heather says: “They are now seven-months-old and are wonderful and are still only the size of newborns as they weigh just over 10lbs each.

“They are still on oxygen but are being weaned off.”

Heather, who lives in Leyland, confesses that although there are lots of nice and happy things happening in her life, she still suffers from ups and downs.

She says: “I am still struggling with depression and anxiety but I am slowly getting there.

“I am cautiously optimistic about the future, but with my past experience, I know things can change very quickly.

“I do still have days when I have fears and worries and I still struggle with fatigue.

“The great things happening in my life now have only been made possible because of my sister and my mum for being my donors.

“I am so grateful to them and saying ‘thank you’ just simply isn’t enough.

“But I think they both know how much I appreciate what they have done.

“I am excited about our wedding and everyone is helping with sorting it and really getting involved.

“It is lovely to actually be able to think about the future.”