When Carmen Loscialpo was struggling to cope through gruelling cancer treatment, the strength to carry on came from an unexpected source – her two young daughters aged just eight and five.
Carmen, 36, said: “The fear of the unknown and how to cope alone was bringing me down until I saw how well my girls were coping with everything, after the initial shock.
“Kloe’s strength was a turning point for me and from then I fought like a warrior. I believe she saved my life.”
And Kloe, raised funds at her school, Haseltine Primary School, Haseltine Road, Sydenham, and also donated her hair for another young patient.
Two years on, Carmen, a bar tender in an exclusive casino in London’s Mayfair, has never felt more confident.
“Cancer changed my life for the better,” she said.
The family, from Bromley, is supporting a fundraising run, Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life and hope their story will encourage people to take part.
Money raised helps scientists find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, saving lives as the charity fights back from the impact of the pandemic.
In May 2019 Carmen was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes.
“There is no history of breast cancer in my family but I always checked myself after a shower and I found a tiny lump,” she said.
“I knew something was wrong straight away and that my life would change forever.”
Within days a biopsy confirming the worst. Within three weeks she was having chemotherapy. Carmen already felt vulnerable – her family are in Italy.
But when her then partner walked out the day before her first chemotherapy treatment, saying he could not give her the emotional support she needed, it almost broke Carmen, who said: “I will never forget the moment he walked away. He said he had enough personal problems of his own and he couldn’t cope with more.
“Having spoken to other women I know that is quite a common reaction.
“When he left I felt very alone.
“The first two months after I had been diagnosed I had given up hope. I spent too much time Googling my disease and that only made me think the worst”
Carmen said the turning point came after Kloe decided to donate her long hair to make a wig for another child with cancer.
Kloe also started fundraising and became an advocate in her school, going up on stage and raising awareness about
breast cancer.Carmen said: “While some children struggle at school in the same circumstances, Kloe was determined to try even harder to do well as she didn’t want me to worry. Her teachers were amazed.
“Kloe especially became my inspiration. She looked after her little sister when I was too ill to. She has grown up so much into a young brave little woman. She never gave up on me”.
Carmen also received invaluable support from her best friend, Claire Steward.
“Claire stepped in and she accompanied me to all my treatments – often sitting with me for eight hours at a time,” said Carmen.
“Claire kept me positive with her banter and made the treatment a little easier. She is a wonderful person”.
She was hit by hair loss, emergency dashes to hospital and days in isolation, Carmen was told in October last year she had won her battle with cancer.
“I am still here. I have been given another chance to live my life in a better way. Braver, stronger and fearless,” she said.
Carmen opted for a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery although only one breast was affected by cancer.
“That was the best decision I made because I knew I would worry about getting cancer again,” she said.
Carmen arranged a special birthday party for Kloe to make up for two she had missed because of lockdown and her mum’s illness.
“I told her before the party I wanted her to know she had saved my life,” said Carmen, who has another daughter, Keira, aged eight.
“Now, I have never felt more confident. I wish I had known then what I know now and I hope my story can help others on a similar journey through hell.”
“What is waiting at the end of that journey is worth all the tears and pain.”
Part of that is down to Carmen’s new partner, Daniel. She said: “He is amazing. We started off as friends. He was there for me and now we are in love.”
Race for Life events has 3K, 5K, 10K options; Pretty Muddy events, a mud-splattered obstacle course, including a version for children.
Lynn Daly Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for London, said: “Race for Life offers the perfect opportunity for people to run, walk or jog and raise money for life-saving research. All 400 mass participation Race for Life events across the UK were cancelled last year. So this year, ore than ever, we need people to enter the Race for Life.”
Anyone registering to take part in a Race for Life event by Sunday (19 Sept) can get 50 per cent off the entry fee. Just apply the discount code RFLAUG50 when entering any Race for Life, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids event.