FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — Sarah McWilliams is known for her unstoppable spirit and that brilliant smile shining through — even after a partial mastectomy and the removal of her lymph nodes.
“You cope, you just do,” said the 40-year-old mother of toddler twins, who was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma, a breast cancer.
“Yeah, bloody terrifying,” said McWilliams, originally from Ireland.
The diagnosis was a shock after all she and her husband had been through.
“We came off the back of an eight year fertility battle,” she explained.
After 12 miscarriages, McWilliams and her husband welcomed little Archie and Lana Rose via a surrogate.
Parenting with cancer can be torturous.
“Singing their lullabies in the rocking chair, I didn’t have the air to sing it,” said McWilliams.
And battling the disease during a pandemic has been a huge challenge, too. Programs for patients – like yoga – have gone away. The isolation, necessary to stay healthy is extreme.
“It’s very lonely, and I’ve found on the down days, you question things,” she said.
But one thing McWilliams doesn’t question is the community support. Neighbors left presents on the doorstep this Christmas when medical bills were high and McWilliams’ energy was low.
“It just took all the pressure off me.”
While the cancer is considered treatable, there are dark moments when McWilliams worries about the future.
“I spend the whole time looking at the babies, writing them letters, taping video messages to them at 2 a.m.,” she said. “Things I want to tell them when they’re in high school.”
But the snuggles and special moments – right now – keep her going.
“I don’t want to miss the time I fought so hard to get with them,” said McWilliams, noting she takes one day at a time…with gratitude. “It would have been a very different journey if they weren’t here.”
Recent scans show no evidence of cancer growth or spread. The community has set up a GoFundMe page to help the family through this tough time.