I put off cancer therapy to save my baby… now I won't see her grow up
Sarah was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It has now spread to her pancreas, intestines, lungs and up to her neckDoctors said pregnancy hormones accelerated the growth of the tumour
22:42 GMT, 12 April 2012
A mother who delayed cancer treatment so her unborn baby could survive has learned she will not live to see her daughter grow up.
Sarah Brook was six months pregnant when she was told that her morning sickness and agonising backache was caused by bowel cancer.
Doctors said her pregnancy hormones were accelerating the growth of the tumour and that she could postpone chemotherapy for only two weeks before she became too ill.
My miracle: Sarah Brook with her daughter Polly Jean who was born at 27weeks
The delay was just long enough to
enable her daughter to survive and Polly Jean was born by Caesarean
section at 27 weeks, weighing around 2lb.
She is now four weeks old and, despite medical complications, is getting stronger.
But Mrs Brook, 32, from Islington,
north London, has been told the cancer has spread to her pancreas,
intestines, lungs and neck and cannot be cured.
Doctors say there are only 25 reported
cases worldwide of those with the same scale of secondary tumours. She
said: ‘I just want to be a mother to my baby girl and continue to be a
wife and best friend to my husband for as long as possible.’
Sarah, pictured with her husband Ben on her wedding day in 2006 (right) discovered she had bowel cancer when she was 25 weeks pregnant
Poignant: Polly Jean survived but may not remember her mother if Sarah's cancer progresses
Mrs Brook, a former pupil at the
prestigious City of London School for Girls, now lives in Australia
after emigrating with her husband Ben, 35, following their marriage in
The Brighton University graduate is spending most of her time at
the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, either having cancer treatment
or visiting Polly, who will be in the neo-natal intensive care unit for
Describing her daughter as ‘a little
fighter’ and a ‘miracle’, she said: ‘I knew that having a baby would be a
life-changing event but even I couldn’t contemplate quite how much. The
feeling when I first saw her was just complete love.’
Mrs Brook is having chemotherapy. She
could not receive the treatment while she was still pregnant as it would
have put the foetus at risk.
She said: ‘It’s not been easy to get
my head around the idea that doctors talk in terms of treatment rather
than cure. The situation has been incredibly difficult for my husband as
he may need to come to terms with how life will be without me, and how
he will raise Polly as a single father.’
Bowel cancer can be hard to diagnose
in pregnant women because its symptoms – changes in bowel habits,
nausea, vomiting and back pain – resemble those experienced during a
A fundraising campaign for Mrs Brook
has been started. Friend Karina Sharp said the money would ‘remove
financial stress and give them time to love their newborn’.
To donate, click here