A Portishead woman has put pen to paper to share her courageous story about the devasting loss of her daughter, battling with terminal cancer, and her life before tragedy struck.
Heidi Loughlin’s inspirational story about heartache and heroism can be read in her debut book, Heidi’s Lifeline, which was released at an official launch on March 21.
Half of the proceeds from its sales will go towards Heidi’s campaign ‘Heidi’s Gloves’, which aims to save lives through raising funds to prevent infection in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU).
Heidi, 36, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of inflammatory breast cancer in September 2015, while pregnant with her daughter and third child Ally.
Heidi postponed treatment to protect her unborn baby girl and gave birth to Ally 12 weeks early.
Eight days later, Ally tragically died after contracting an infection in the NICU ward.
Heidi has since dedicated her time to tirelessly promoting and encouraging glove use in neonatal units and will be embarking on a coast-to-coast cycling challenge next month (May) to raise more awareness.
The former Metropolitan Police officer will be undertaking the ride alongside Lady Sarra Hoy, whose husband is former Olympic cyclist, Sir Chris Hoy.
Sarra’s son was born prematurely at 29 weeks and she supported Heidi in the lead up to Ally’s birth after becoming a regular reader of Heidi’s award-winning blog, ‘Storm in a Tit Cup’.
By sharing her own experiences, Heidi has found a ‘lifeline’ – hence the book’s title – in educating others about inflammatory breast cancer, dealing with grief and being a ‘kick ass’ human.
Heidi continues to receive chemotherapy every three weeks.
Her book not only recounts the trials, tribulations and tragedies faced in more recent years, but she also shares tales about growing up in Portishead, university life, being an army cadet, travelling the world and working for the Metropolitan Police.
Despite Heidi’s grief, her book remains positive and life affirming, and is written in her own feisty and witty way.
Heidi said: “This book is a humorous take on a dark subject matter. I talk about my life before cancer and how that’s shaped me to become the person I am today, somone who takes on any challenge and is stubborn – that’s why cancer will never take me down.
“There is one part of the book that is emotional, and it’s probably the part I will never be able to read again.”
Heidi added: “It’s been amazing to launch this book, especially in Portishead – everyone here has been such a pillar of support to me.”
Speaking about Heidi’s Gloves, Heidi said: “As a parent, I was not encouraged to wear gloves when interacting with my daughter Ally, I was just told to wash my hands. In a lot of cases, hand washing is good enough, but unbeknown to many people there is a specific way to wash your hands.
“A physical barrier would be an extra level of protection, as it is visible, unlike hand washing, we would also know if we had prepared ourselves to touch our babies.
“The concept of ‘gloves for all’ in NICUs was born, and I launched ‘Heidi’s Gloves’.”
To find out more about Heidi, NICU Support, Heidi’s Gloves and to buy Heidi’s Lifeline, visit http://www.heidischallenge.co.uk.
Heidi’s Lifeline is also available at SoleLution shoe shop in Portishead High Street and at Harvey Nichols in Bristol’s Cabot Circus, priced £9.99.
Story published in April issue of Portisheadvoice