Gina Chick only knew she was four days pregnant when doctors issued a damning warning: “Terminate the baby or you will die.”
When she was told she could never have children, then 40-year-old and her husband Lee were over the moon to learn that they were blessed with the baby they had always wanted.
But the Sydney couple’s joy was torn from them after a scan revealed that a seemingly harmless lump on Gina’s breast was stage three breast cancer.
“Everything froze,” Gina told Daily Mail Australia, recalling the doctor’s evening interview in October 2009.
I looked at the wall and saw the paint bend. The cat slapped me and I couldn’t bring myself to even pet it. ‘
Gina Chick, 51, fights a second round of breast cancer 11 and a half years after her first crushing diagnosis
In the days that followed, her doctor, oncologist, and breast surgeon all echoed the stark warning that keeping her child prodigy would be a death sentence.
Diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer fueled by estrogen, doctors told Gina the pregnancy would make her disease worse.
But the expectant mother was determined to keep her child and refused to terminate the pregnancy.
‘Nobody took my baby away from me. She was only two weeks old, but I couldn’t let anyone take me, ”she said.
Her maternal instincts told her there was a way to deliver her baby safely, and she hunted down a surgeon to treat her during her pregnancy.
The new doctor told her that chemotherapy does not harm the fetuses, but that they are usually born smaller than average until they catch up at the age of two.
She resisted chemo for as long as possible until a blood test three months later showed her cancer cells were high and she was forced to start treatment.
Gina photographed in 2010 while undergoing chemotherapy while pregnant with her daughter, Blaise
“ There was a moment of despair as I rocked my baby when I started to think ‘This can’t possibly end well,’ ” Gina, now 51, said.
‘I felt like I had liquid metal in my veins. Everything gets so slow and heavy. But I got through that night and she was still kicking in the morning.
“And I thought, maybe this will be okay.”
After four grueling rounds of chemotherapy, Gina was able to enjoy the last two months of pregnancy before giving birth to a healthy girl, Blaise, on June 23, 2010. Neither of them had her at the time.
Gina still had to undergo radiotherapy, but after learning that she wouldn’t be able to hold Blaise if she had the treatment, she declined. Subsequent testing showed the chemotherapy had worked – she was already in remission.
The family then moved to a sprawling estate on the south coast of NSW, where Blaise grew up in the wilderness surrounded by animals.
Blaise (pictured) was born healthy at 4.5 kg when she was born on June 23, 2010
A wild, free-spirited child, she loved to wear tutus but not shoes, and would eventually end up covered in dirt when she went out to feed the family’s rabbits and guinea pigs.
But after three magical years, disaster struck.
Gina found a lump on Blaise’s abdomen that was diagnosed as neuroblastoma – a cancer of the nervous system – unrelated to her mother’s illness or treatment.
Doctors cut it out and initially gave her everything clear – but ten weeks later, when Blaise caught a cold and quickly receded, they realized she still had the disease.
After Blaise spent nine days in the ICU with no hope of recovery, her parents made the heartbreaking decision to end her livelihood.
“Lee and I sang to her as she flew away,” Gina recalled.
‘She was the love of my life. When I was pregnant I fought with fang and claw to get her. I had to come every day to say I want you.
‘When she was here, I didn’t take her for a second for granted. Having her was the greatest gift. ‘
Almost 12 years later, Gina was diagnosed with the same breast cancer again after she discovered a new lump last month.
The family spent three wonderful years on a south coast estate where Blaise was immersed in the wilderness before the toddler was tragically stricken with cancer.
Although her estrogen was high during pregnancy, her levels will be lower in menopause, making the disease much easier to treat.
Following Blaise’s death, Gina and Lee, who have since divorced, launched a rewild your child program through their companies Bluegum Bushcraft and Wild Heart, which organize wilderness survival classes and family camps to teach children bush skills.
The Covid-19 pandemic devastated the company, which restarted retreats just 18 months later, leaving Gina struggling financially and ineligible for government support.
A GoFundMe A campaign has been launched to raise money for Gina’s treatment and to help her move from Jervis Bay to Sydney to be close to her therapy clinic.
Although she has danced with cancer before, this time the journey is completely different.
“Now I don’t have a cub to protect, it’s harder to find that passion and fire because why do you want to live?”
‘But this fight [of cancer] is a call to attention to ask myself ‘how do I want to spend my precious life?’
“I still have gifts to bring to the world. I’m not ready to die yet. ‘
Gina is the daughter of acclaimed writer Suzanne Chick and granddaughter of Australian writer Charmain Clift. Her book about her life experiences, entitled She Wolf, will be released later this year.