In the UK, a mother has revealed how she chose to give up her leg to save her unborn baby after finding out that her cancer has come back.
Kathleen Osborne, 28, from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, had no idea she was pregnant when she went for an MRI scan diagnosing cancer for the third time.
When she discovered that she was 4-months-pregnant, the doctors told her that she had two options: either to abort her baby so she could start chemotherapy or to have a leg amputation.
A day later, Kathleen decided to have her entire right leg amputated, to get rid of the bone cancer. The operation was a success and Kathleen gave birth to baby Aida-May eight weeks early through c-section.
“I’m happy I made the decision to lose my leg because it gave me my daughter,” Kathleen told Mail Online. “If I’d not had my leg amputated then, I’d have lost her and I’d have been going through chemotherapy which might not even have saved my leg in the end anyway.”
“I wouldn’t have her if I didn’t do it so it’s all been worth it. I’d always wanted a little girl after having my two boys first and now she’s here so I’m happy I did it,” she added.
Kathleen’s battle with cancer started when she was just 11 after a painful lump on her right leg turned out to be osteosarcoma in 2005. She had chemotherapy for bone cancer and had most of her kneecap removed as well as two metal rods inserted into her leg.
The mom was clear of cancer for 11 years and welcomed two sons, Hayden,9, and Leo,5 before she discovered that cancer had returned in 2016, this time on her lungs.
“Childhood cancer usually comes back within two or three years, but mine came back after 11,” she said. “It was really rare, it’s not often they see that so they had to act quickly.”
She was given all clear in March 2017 but just three and a half years later, another painful lump on the top of her right leg appeared that left her almost unable to walk.
An MRI scan revealed it was cancer again but also showed a mysterious mass in her pelvis area, leading doctors to give Kathleen a pregnancy test that turned out to be positive.
“It was really scary because then I immediately thought I was going to lose my baby,” the mom said. “I’d only just found out about her and then I thought I was going to lose her.”
“The doctors gave me two choices,” she continued. “They said I could either terminate my baby, have chemotherapy, have an operation, and most likely lose my leg, or keep my baby and have my leg amputated straight away.”
“They gave me a week to make the decision and told me the sooner I had the surgery, the better.”
Kathleen underwent surgery on November 17 to have her entire right leg amputated from her pelvis downwards.
For eight days after her amputation, Kathleen was unable to look down at her remaining leg.
“It was really hard,” Kathleen said. “Towards the end of the eight days, I did glance down, but it was really weird looking at the blanket on top of me.”
“I could see one heap where my leg was and then nothing next to it,” she said. “I really struggled to look down at it, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.”
For the rest of her pregnancy, Kathleen used crutches to get around after refusing a wheelchair. She had to give birth to baby Aida-May eight weeks early after another MRI scan revealed cancer on her lungs had returned.
“They only gave me two days to prepare for giving birth to her – I thought I had eight weeks and then suddenly I only had two days which was scary!”
Fortunately, Kathleen’s daughter Aida-May is now a healthy and happy little girl after being born eight weeks early through a c-section on March 12.
Kathleen has been told by medics that this fourth cancer is inoperable and terminal, so she’s now doing all she can to spend time with her three kids while undergoing chemotherapy.
“I don’t know how long I have left; it could be years, it could be just months,” she said. “I just want to do as many things as they want to do. They really want to go to Disneyland which we can’t do yet due to Covid-19 but hopefully, we can in the future.”
“As long as they have memories with me and they have as much fun with me as possible,” she added. “I can go then, as long as they’re happy.”