In her own words, Laura Davies explains how she almost didn't get her fairytale ending...

We met in the most unusual yet festive way. Whenever we tell people we can practically hear them shout, ‘Oh no you didn’t!’

I was Cinderella in panto and the man I fell in love with was an Ugly Sister. For me it was love at first sight, even though Simon was almost twice my age and wearing a floral, frilly frock, pink bonnet and bright orange wig.

It felt extra special falling in love at that time of the year. That is why when we decided to get married three years later, we tied the knot at Christmas too.

A year after that our daughter, India, was born. But by the time she was six months old, I was worried.

I hadn’t been feeling ill, but there were signs something wasn’t right. I’d turned a blind eye to an embarrassing problem that, in hindsight, I had been suffering from for three years – blood in my poo.

When Laura met her husband Simon, they were both in Panto. She was Cinderella, he was an Ugly Sister

I noticed it every time I went to the toilet but did nothing. As well as the bleeding, I had stomach pain and veered between constipation and diarrhoea.

I also lost my pregnancy weight quickly, felt tired and was getting colds a lot, but I did have a newborn so put it down to that.

I used to have Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms on and off but the pain intensified. They were very sharp, strong cramps after I ate. But it wasn’t there all the time.

Simon isn’t the type to worry but I later found out that, seeing me so uncomfortable, he had quietly said to my mum, ‘I think there’s something going on here. It isn’t right.’

I’d mentioned it during a routine check-up with my GP before India was born. ‘But everyone has a little blood don’t they?’ I’d said.

Laura after first bowel surgery with India when she was 8 months old

He’d looked at me, horrified, and said it needed to be looked into. I was in the system so as soon as India was born I saw a consultant.

She didn’t think it was urgent and said a colonoscopy could wait until I finished breastfeeding. She ran some blood tests in the meantime.

It was those that flagged up something wasn’t right.

India stopped breastfeeding – almost as if she knew – then the colonoscopy was booked as an urgent referral.

As I watched the monitor during the colonoscopy at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, the camera exploring my insides revealed a huge mushroom-shaped lump on my bowel.

It didn’t look big, but I instinctively knew it wasn’t good news. ‘Is it cancer?’ I asked, but I was told to get dressed.

The nurse said it’s never 100% until the biopsy results come back but these doctors work with cancer all the time and recognised my lump was sinister.

The tension in the nurse’s voice made me scared. I went into the neighbouring room and Simon was with a Macmillan Cancer Support nurse. Between them on the table was a box of tissues.

I was then told I had to have CT and MRI scans and they confirmed I had stage 3 bowel cancer which had spread to my liver and possibly to my ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Fear lurched inside, but I tried to ignore it. I was waiting to hear what treatment they had planned for me, so I could beat it and get back to my life.

But to my horror, the doctors said they needed to do surgery straight away on my bowel and would more than likely have to take out my ovaries.

I remember panicking and saying, ‘Does that mean I won’t be able to have any more children?’.

Introducing Georgia to her oncologist Dr Tony Dhillon

But my consultant wasn’t concerned about me extending my family. He told me he didn’t even know if I could be treated and I may have just months to live.

And the doctor said, ‘At the moment we are just trying to focus on survival to five years.’ I looked at Simon and thought about our beautiful baby. I knew I had to fight this.

Simon never showed me any fear and we laughed constantly at all of it. I’d have moments where I’d cry and be frightened.

But he’d hug me, brush it all off and never let me see he was worried.

Surgeons removed part of my bowel then I had six rounds of chemotherapy for the tumours in my liver too.

Every fortnight, I had a line in my arm to administer two different drugs in hospital and the last of the three was attached to a flask which I had to wear over the weekend and it fed through over 48 hours.

Laura recovering from her liver operation

I was very lucky my hair didn’t fall out but, more importantly, the cancer hadn’t spread to my reproductive organs and the tumours had gone.

My oncologist said he had never seen that happen so quickly before. That was brilliant to hear and the first bit of good news I’d had in months.

But the surgeons still took the decision to remove half of my liver to be on the safe side.

I then had the choice to have more chemo or not. I chose to because I wanted to make sure not one cancer cell remained.

However, I only managed four more sessions before I had an allergic reaction to the chemo, so my doctor made the decision to stop it.

Weirdly, I think having cancer made me a better mum. I was more patient with India. I appreciated every moment with her.

I was more aware of lifestyle, what we eat and what really matters. She was my most important reason for surviving.

Laura and husband Simon celebrate life more than ever since her recovery

For the next three years, I was given the all-clear after every check-up I had and I edged ever closer to being cancer free.

When it finally entered my mind that I might be OK, I began to think about trying to get pregnant again.

Chemo doesn’t make everyone infertile. But was I just getting my hopes up after going through such a tough battle?

Should I just be thankful I was alive? But then, at one check-up, my oncologist said, ‘If you want to try for another baby, give it a go, but I’m not promising anything.’

Simon and I knew it wasn’t likely, but we thought we would try and see what happened.

In February 2018, I was late, and did a test ‘just to see’ and it was positive.

Then I began to worry because I hadn’t told the hospital, who’d said to wait three years. It had only been six months.

When India met her little sister Georgia for the first time

I had a routine appointment with a Macmillan nurse when I was five weeks pregnant and I sheepishly told her the news. She cried tears of joy for us and my medical team were really supportive.

Then we had the exciting moment of telling India too. She said it was a dream come true.

I went into labour four weeks early – little Georgia couldn’t wait to make her arrival. They looked so alike. It was a beautiful moment when India held her little sister in her arms.

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I am now cancer free. My last scan was January of this year and that remained all clear. Georgia has just turned one and we’re looking forward to Christmas.

Neither of us is doing panto this year. Oh no we’re not!

We are just spending it with my parents, but mostly being together in our PJs, playing games, eating mince pies and watching lots of Christmas telly with our two girls – the most beautiful Christmas presents ever.

Laura has not received payment for this article but a substantial donation has been made to the Royal Surrey Hospital, Guildford where Laura received her cancer treatment and gave birth to Georgia.