A woman has given birth after discovering she has an inoperable brain tumour when she was 20 weeks pregnant. Laura Mahon, 29, has been given two years to live but says she is fighting to stay strong for her family – including her new arrival.
Laura, from St. Helens, Merseyside, began struggling to walk at the 20-week mark and was unable to move her right leg or her toes. Following an MRI scan she was told she had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and at 27 weeks pregnant her condition began to deteriorate.
Laura and her partner Danny made the difficult choice to undergo a planned caesarean at 30 weeks. On November 30 2021, Sienna Grace Laura Mahon was born – weighing just 3.4lbs.
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Laura said: “It was such a shock, I’m only 29 and didn’t think something like this could happen to me. I was so focused on the baby, but I was getting more poorly.
“I see others with GBMs who manage to live longer, so I am clinging to the idea that I might be one of those people. I’m fighting as hard as I can and I’m staying strong for my family.”
Laura and Danny first realised something was wrong when Laura woke up and couldn’t move her toes. She was sent for an MRI scan by her GP who thought her baby could be pressing against a nerve, however when the scan came back clear on her back, she was sent back for a scan on her brain.
(Image: © Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)
It was then that she was told the harrowing news of her brain tumour – due to her pregnancy, doctors told her that she was a unique case and they wanted to monitor her before deciding what to do. However, at 27 weeks Laura became unwell and the couple made the decision to have a caesarean birth at 30 weeks, following which Sienna was taken to the neonatal ward where she was placed in an incubator.
In another tragic turn, their daughter then developed a collapsed lung and was transferred to Royal Oldham Hospital for specialised care. Just a few days later, on December 9, Laura had another MRI scan which revealed the tumour had nearly doubled in size and due to its location on her motor cortex, the tumour was classed as inoperable as it wouldn’t be safe to remove it.
On December 22, she received the results of her biopsy and discovered the tumour was in fact a stage 4 brain cancer – and she had just two years to live. Following the harrowing news, Laura decided there were still certain things she wanted to do, including marrying Danny, and on January 6, 2022, the couple tied the knot despite Laura experiencing her first seizure just two days before.
The day after the wedding, the couple registered Sienna’s birth which was swiftly followed by her christening on January 8 at the Warrington Hospital chapel, where staff organised a party with food and presents – and the following week Laura started a six-week chemotherapy and radiotherapy course. Incredibly, at the start of April, an MRI scan showed that the tumour had stabilised and even shrunk, and now Laura and her family are working to make new memories and stay positive.
“I couldn’t walk properly, I was being sick, and I was so tired. After many heart-breaking conversations, Danny and I made the toughest decision of our lives and decided to bring our daughter into the world at 30 weeks.
“At my planned caesarean section, the midwifery team put me under general anaesthetic so that I was totally relaxed. They didn’t want to put any pressure on my brain because of the risk of causing further complications.
“I discharged myself from Warrington Hospital, even though I wasn’t really well enough, because I wanted to be with Sienna. Danny and I followed her to Oldham, where she was put in an incubator for a week – we weren’t allowed any visitors because of COVID restrictions.
“We really wanted our family to be with us, so it was very stressful for both of us. Danny and I had prepared ourselves for the worst – we knew deep down what it was going to be but being told at 29 years old that you have inoperable stage 4 brain cancer and that I had just two years to live is something you can never prepare yourself for.
“Hearing that said out loud was a moment we’ll never forget – they were only able to remove around 20% of it. I was devastated because I’d got my hopes up. It was yet another setback, bad news on top of bad news.
“It felt so surreal, like I was living two separate lives – things all looked fine, like we were a happy family, then I would remember how poorly I am. But it’s so special having Sienna with us, it’s like what we had originally envisaged.
“Right now, we’re trying to get out and do nice things to make memories together, but I need to take each day as it comes – it’s hard at times and I just break down and cry, but Sienna’s lung has repaired itself and she is completely fine now.” Matthew Price, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: “We’re really grateful to Laura for working with us as it’s only with the support of people like her that we’re able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients who are forced to fight this awful disease.
“Unlike many other cancers, brain tumours are indiscriminate – they can affect anyone at any time. Too little is known about the causes and that is why increased investment in research is vital.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.