Mum-of-two Thanks Pregnancy For Saving Her Life After Doctors Detect Deadly Tumour – Now She’s Finally Cancer Free
A mum-of-two is finally celebrating being officially cancer-free – after her unborn daughter saved her life when her pregnancy caused doctors to spot a cancerous tumour.
Rachel Avon, 34, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer – known as pseudomyxoma peritoneii – which affects the appendix, bladder and ovaries – after the weight of her growing baby caused painful symptoms to flare up.
Medics were able to remove the tumour while Rachel was six months’ pregnant with her second child Cari – and made the controversial decision not to tell her about the cancer until after she had given birth.
Amazingly, they managed to remove all of the tumour – but Rachel had to be carefully monitored five years due to the risks of it returning.
But now, the mum-of-two from Newport, Wales, is finally officially cancer free.
Rachel, a primary school teacher, said: “Cari is a really special girl – without her, my cancer could have been a very different story.
“Now, I’m healthier and happier than ever; I even recently ran the London Marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK.”
Rachel first visited her doctor when she started having sharp pains in her abdomen while pregnant.
Following her doctor’s appointment, Rachel was told she needed her appendix removing as soon as possible.
But during this operation, doctors discovered a rare, cancerous tumour and removed it during the surgery.
Rachel was then told the operation was for an appendicitis and continued with her pregnancy before giving birth at 41 weeks.
Rachel said: “It all started with agonising pains in my stomach, I was terrified it was linked to my unborn baby so I called the midwife.
“The midwife advised I go the hospital, which definitely got me thinking the worst.
“After going to the hospital they believed I had appendicitis.
“I was really nervous – having surgery at six months’ pregnant was a huge thing but they said, despite being pregnant, they had to put my life before the baby’s.
“It was an extremely difficult time, but as I was already a mum to Ffion, who was only one at the time, I understood I had to put myself first.”
Whilst under the knife, doctor’s discovered that she actually had a rare form of cancer that only affects one in three million people.
Rachel, a primary school teacher, said: “If it wasn’t for Cari my cancer wouldn’t have been picked up as quickly and things could have been a lot worse.
“It was because of being pregnant that it triggered the issue with my appendix meaning I needed surgery – without the surgery, my tumour wouldn’t have been accidentally found.”
Despite doctors shocking discovery, they made the moral decision not to tell Rachel and her husband Ross, 35, about the cancer until after she’d given birth.
The mum of two said: “If the tumour was to have spread I’d have needed a major operation – something known as ‘the mother of all surgeries’ (MOAS) – as chemotherapy wouldn’t have worked.
“MOAS is where they remove all organs you don’t need and internally washing all the others to reduce the number of cancer cells.
“It sounds terrible so I’m very lucky I didn’t need to have it.”
Four days after Cari was born, Rachel’s consultant asked her to come back to the hospital for what Rachel believed to be a check up following her appendectomy.
She said: “When I discovered that doctors hadn’t told me about my cancer I was so shocked – in the short term it didn’t feel like the right decision but five years on, I know it was the right decision they made for us.
“Doctors reasoning for not telling me until Cari was born was due to the fact I wouldn’t be able to have an MRI to see if the cancer had spread until after the baby was born.”
Fortunately for Rachel, when she finally came to have the scan, it came back that the cancer hadn’t spread.
Following her diagnosis, she’s had annual scans to ensure the cancer hadn’t returned.
Now, five years on, Rachel is officially cancer free and counts herself lucky the cancer was found in time.
Rachel said: “I’m so lucky to have had the surgery when I did.
“I’m over the moon to be cancer free and now I’m determined to raise awareness of pseudomyxoma peritoneii to help other people.”