Only five years since her good friend died of breast cancer, Penny Lancaster struggled to cope when she learned that her sister-in-law was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, on the same day that she learned she was pregnant.
The excitement of having a second child with husband Rod Stewart was quickly replaced by horror when Lancaster said she “felt like her baby had gone.”
In 1999, Penny Lancaster was at a party with her friend, Maria Falco, who playing Cupid, encouraged her to speak with Rod Stewart.
Lancaster, a model turned photographer, accepted Falco’s dare and offered to take some photos of the “Maggie May” singer.
Developing an instant connection, the couple announced in 2005–while the rocker was separated from model Rachel Hunter–that Lancaster was pregnant with their first child, Alistair, who was born November 27, 2005.
It’s also the same year that Falco, a 39-year-old mother of two, died from breast cancer.
“Lots of people take credit for getting Rod and I together but it was actually Maria…when Maria saw Rod she dared me to go up and ask him for his autograph,” Lancaster said. “…It’s still hard to believe that she’s not here.”
Though Falco was there for the birth of their first son, she was not there in 2007 when Lancaster wed the legendary rocker at a medieval monastery in Italy’s Portofino.
And the trauma Lancaster experienced from losing her close friend continued to haunt her.
In 2010, after three gruelling rounds of IVF, Lancaster and Stewart discovered they were finally pregnant with their second child.
Wanting to share the exciting news, one of the first people they called was Lancaster’s younger brother Oliver and his girlfriend Louise Crocker.
Speaking with the Daily Mail, Oliver explains, “The thing was, Penny was at the beginning of an exhilarating journey, and we were just embarking on a very different one.”
Two tests returned positive results that day.
One for Lancaster and Stewart’s baby, and the second for Louise, who then 36, was diagnosed with grade-three breast cancer.
Penny, shaken by the news of Louise–whom she calls “the sister she never had”–said, “When I found out about Louise I had this feeling like my insides had been stripped out. Why Louise? She’s young and healthy and she’s got two children aged seven and three. It seems so scary and unfair.” She continued, “I was overwhelmed by this gut-wrenching emptiness. It made me panic and I had to call my doctor and go for a scan as I felt like the baby had gone.”
A scan revealed that the baby was fine and baby Aiden, Stewart’s eighth child, was born in February 2011.
Meanwhile, Louise, now 49, had a mastectomy, reconstruction, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and made a remarkable recovery.
“She’s doing really well. Her mission was to get as fit as possible to reduce her chances of recurrence and make sure she goes on to lead a longer and happier life. She is so vibrant and has got so much energy, you would never think she had been affected by the disease,” said Lancaster.
Adding to their happiness of Louise’s recovery, was Alistair’s excitement in having a sibling. Lancaster, now 52, said, “Alastair’s pleas of ‘Mummy, I really, really, really want a baby!’ kind of kept me on the track to keep going.” She added, “But thankfully we were granted with our wish and all is well.”
Before Alistair and Aiden, Stewart had six other children.
His first child Sarah, born in 1963, is from his relationship with ex-girlfriend Susannah Boffey (1963 to 1964). He then married Alana Stewart in 1979 and they had Kimberly (1979) and Sean (1980). The singer then had a relationship with model Kelly Emberg and they have a daughter, Ruby, born in 1987. In his second marriage, with model Rachel Hunter, he has two kids, Renee (born 1992) and Liam (born 1994).
We’re so happy that Aiden is thriving as a youngster! Also, it’s great to hear that Louise is in recovery and we hope it continues.