Woman Diagnosed with Brain Cancer While Pregnant Talks Mom Life as She Says 'There's Not Many Options Left'

Laura Mahon had a C-section at 30 weeks and brain surgery the following week so that doctors could do a biopsy

<p>Laura Mahon</p> Laura Mahon with daughter Sienna.

Laura Mahon

Laura Mahon with daughter Sienna.
  • Laura Mahon was 20 weeks pregnant with her first baby when doctors discovered a tumor on her brain

  • At 30 weeks pregnant, she had a cesarean section to welcome daughter Sienna and underwent brain surgery just a week later. Shortly after, Mahon was told it was stage 4 brain cancer and would only have about a year to live

  • In December 2023, Mahon started her 18th round of chemotherapy and recently began radiotherapy

A U.K. woman is opening up about her journey as a mom after being diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer while pregnant.

In October 2021, Laura Mahon was 20 weeks pregnant with her first baby when she received her diagnosis. She tells PEOPLE she thought she was just experiencing pregnancy symptoms like headaches and sensitivities and it wasn't until she woke up one morning and couldn't move her foot that she sought out a doctor.

"It was numb and I couldn't move it properly that I thought, 'Oh, that's not normal,' and I had to go to see my doctor, who sent me to the hospital."

After a scan of her spine came back normal — doctors thought the baby could've been lying on the nerve — she was sent to a neurological hospital where they scanned her brain and found a tumor.

"It was horrible. I don't think they expected to find anything when I went. They were like, 'You're quite young to have anything wrong with your brain, but we'll scan you just to rule it out,' " she recalls.

After an hour in the MRI machine, they told Mahon and her mom to stick around for a doctor to discuss the results.

Related: Mom Noticed Her Toddler Was Acting Strange. Days Later, She Found Out It Was Stage 4 Cancer (Exclusive)

"We went and waited in the waiting room, and they called us back in after about half an hour. He just said, 'I'm so sorry, but there's something on your brain. It's a brain tumor. It's looking quite big and it's not great.' "

Because Mahon was pregnant, she couldn't have anything done until her daughter was out. "The plan was to get to about 34 weeks pregnant, and then have Sienna, and then have the brain surgery."

"I couldn't walk properly, and I was on crutches. Then one week, my arm just started going numb, and it started going to the leg, and I couldn't grip things. I couldn't hold things," she recalls. "That's when my surgeon stepped in and said it needs to be now or you might not survive and your little girl might not survive."

Mahon ended up having a cesarean section at 30 weeks, and her brain surgery just a week later. Then, two days before Christmas, she and her husband Danny were told it was stage 4 brain cancer and she only had about a year to live.

<p>Laura Mahon</p> Laura Mahon and daughter Sienna.

Laura Mahon

Laura Mahon and daughter Sienna.

While Mahon was still in the hospital recovering from her surgery, her daughter Sienna was moved to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where she stayed for 50 days.

"She had a hole in her lung at the start. They had to wait for that to repair, and we just wanted to make sure she was healthy before she came home to us," says Mahon.

That year, Mahon says she and her family "didn't really celebrate Christmas."

"We spent Christmas day in the hospital with Sienna, It was a really happy sad time because it was Sienna's first Christmas, but then we were also thinking if it's my last Christmas, and it was just horrible."

In the second week of January 2022, Mahon started chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which she did every day for the next six weeks.

<p>Laura Mahon</p> Laura Mahon

Laura Mahon

Laura Mahon

Looking back at that time, Mahon says she "doesn't know" how she and Danny were managing as new parents. "I was just so tired and so poorly. Danny was getting up every three hours in the night to feed Sienna because he didn't want me to do it because I needed my rest and I was so tired. Then my mom and dad or Danny's mom and dad would take it in turns just coming over in the morning before we'd go to the hospital."

She continued chemo for six months, one week each month, and in December 2022 she was told the tumor had grown back on the other side of her brain. In December 2023, Mahon began her 18th round of chemo.

Mahon says while her daughter Sienna, now 2, "doesn't really get what's going on," they try to keep things positive for their little girl.

"We try and keep our hospital life and family life separate. That always seems to help," she shares. "We just do nice things as a family. We make memories and we just try with each day. We just take each day as it comes really."

<p>Laura Mahon</p> Laura Mahon's scar from brain surgery.

Laura Mahon

Laura Mahon's scar from brain surgery.

"We've got all these happy memories, and then we've also got some very, very hard memories. So it's hard when you're looking back, thinking about the day she was born," she admits. "There's happiness there, but then there's also sadness there because we knew what was coming up We just try and focus on her happiness and we just focus on that and just try and keep going, keep positive."

Mahon says she also began sharing her story online as a way for her daughter to have something to look back on. "No matter what happens, I wanted her to look back and be like, 'My mommy and daddy did everything they could to raise awareness, and we did all this nice stuff.' We've got a memory box for her, we've got scrapbooks. I think that keeps us going as well just helping people and just talking about it."

On Jan. 12, Mahon shared an update on Instagram about her health, noting that it's been "28 months since I've started this journey."

"I’ve had brain surgery, radiotherapy and done 18 months of chemotherapy. There's been plenty of highs and lots of lows. But today was probably the lowest of lows," she wrote.

Mahon said that the chemotherapy has stopped working and her tumor is now spreading across her brain. "There's not many options left anymore."

<p>Laura Mahon</p> Laura Mahon with husband Danny and daughter Sienna.

Laura Mahon

Laura Mahon with husband Danny and daughter Sienna.

"I’m gonna have radiotherapy again to try and slow the growth. This could work really well or it will take me down," she explained. "This is a path me and Danny didn’t ever think we’d go down, but we did and we even managed to have fun along the way."

Still, Mahon is staying positive. "This isn’t the end of my journey far from it. It’s just the next chapter in this story. I’ve been here before, I’ve been told before I’m at the end but it wasn’t. I’m ready to fight again."

Donate to Laura Mahon's GoFundMe page here.

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