In 1991 Fran was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). Desperate to have a family, she postponed her transplant for a few years so she could have her two sons, Matthew and Sebastian. She had her transplant in 1995.
‘I didn’t have a clue what it was. I had only heard of leukaemia because my favourite film Love Story had a character who died of it. I had no idea what it meant in terms of having a family, that it would be very difficult to have children post-transplant. Near impossible, back then.
‘I talked it through with my husband Adrian and the only way we could work out how to achieve our family dream was to postpone my treatment and have a baby before transplant. A lot of people didn’t understand; they would say, “We’re fighting for your life – is that really a sensible thing to do? Is it fair to bring a child into the world if it’s going to lose its mum?”
‘But I was absolutely adamant. To imagine my life without children if I did come through – that was harder to come to terms with than leukaemia itself. My doctor didn’t agree but fortunately I was introduced to Professor Goldman at the Hammersmith. He asked me: how important is it to you to have children, from one to ten? I said 11. So he backed me: he gave me three months of treatment and if I couldn’t conceive, I’d have to move on and forget it.
‘So we went to the Caribbean and I returned pregnant. Nine months later I gave birth to my son and we named him Matthew, because it means ‘gift from God’. And he really was. I gave birth to my second son Sebastian the following year, 1993. I will never forget my transplant and I will never forget Professor Goldman agreeing to support me to have kids. I do thank God every day. Not only that I am here, but that I fought and fought to have these children.’