A young mother who was diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor just weeks after giving birth is writing birthday cards for her two-year-old son so that he remembers her.
Tyla Livingstone, from Fife, has revealed her agony at not being there for her son, Preston, as he grows up. The 22-year-old says she feels guilty of leaving her son without a mother.
In February last year, doctors told Tyla that she had at most two to five years to hang around.
The woman wants to see her son go to school but fears she won’t be there by the time. “It’s heartbreaking. I feel so guilty over something I cannot control,” she told Fabulous Digital.
“But I will fight to see as much as I can. My main aim is to see him go to school and for him to remember who I am and my voice. But I’ll always be with him in his heart.”
A few weeks before giving birth to Preston, Tyla blacked out while she was taking a bath.
“I blacked out only to awaken to my mom calling for an ambulance,” the woman recalled. “She was telling them I had suffered a seizure and was jerking about.
“I was so stressed about my baby, I didn’t even think of myself.
“Paramedics arrived within minutes and rushed me straight to hospital. On the way I felt my baby, who I knew was a boy, kick. I was so relieved.”
The doctors at the hospital suggested Tyla undergo an MRI scan as a precaution. The scan, however, revealed she had a 2 cm mass growing at her brain’s left frontal lobe.
Fortunately, the tumor was in its mild form and recovery wasn’t difficult. So, Tyla agreed to leave it untouched unless her delivery.
On January 12, she welcomed her son Preston at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Born a week early, the baby was completely healthy and weighed 5 lbs 14 oz.
“Being a mom was tough but I loved it – changing nappies, night feeds and just cuddling him,” Tyla said. “A month in I left him for the first time with his dad and my partner Mark, 29, for a night out with a pal.
“I barely drank anything – I hadn’t drunk alcohol for nine months after all – but the next morning I woke up and the right side of me was paralyzed.
“I wasn’t concerned, I blamed the alcohol. So for two days I did nothing, getting my family to help with Preston.”
But when she visited the doctor after two days, another MRI scan revealed her tumor had grown unexpectedly and was pressing her nerves.
“For two weeks I was in hospital and on steroids to try and reduce swelling which surrounded the tumor. I was then allowed home but could barely walk so family cared for Preston,” she said.
“Emergency brain surgery was planned for February 26. I was in theater for nearly six hours – I was awake during part of it so they could check my senses.
“Two weeks later I went back to hospital for the results. It was a grade-four glioblastoma, the most aggressive cancer that begins in the brain and is terminal.
“So few people survive longer than five years, it’s nicknamed ‘The Terminator’. Learning the news was horrific. At that moment I died inside.”
Tyla underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and even brain surgery, but the growth didn’t stop.
“The cancer is incredibly rare – there’s no explanation as to why I’ve developed it. It’s like I’ve won the lottery… but a terrible lottery with no money involved,” she said.
It has been more than a year since Tyla was diagnosed so she feels that time is running out for her.
“I just want to make the most of my time left with Preston. He’s a mischievous little boy who is so funny. He doesn’t understand I’m ill,” the woman said.
“I’m going to start writing him birthday cards soon, so he can open them when I’m gone. I’m saving things for him too – locks of my hair, my radiotherapy mask.
“I need him to know his mommy fought desperately hard to be with him, that she loved him so, so much and didn’t choose to leave him.”
Despite knowing she doesn’t have long to live, the 22-year-old is still extremely positive.
She says we come to this world like tourists and some of us have to leave earlier than others. That’s why she believes in living every moment of life.
“Live every minute of it like it’s your last day and make the best memories as that’s all you are left with in the end,” she said. “This might not be the life I had planned, but it is the one I’ve got.”
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