A pregnant mum bravely chose to have her leg amputated to save her unborn baby when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Kathleen Osborne, 28, had no idea she was pregnant when she went for an MRI scan diagnosing cancer for the third time.
She couldn’t believe it when doctors found that she was also pregnant, leaving Kathleen with two options - abort her baby so she could start chemotherapy or have her leg amputated.
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Incredibly, it only took one night for Kathleen to make her life-changing decision and she had her entire right leg amputated at four months pregnant, eradicating the cancer.
Daughter Aida-May was born healthy and happy, eight weeks early, via a c-section.
Kathleen, from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, said: “I’m happy I made the decision to lose my leg because it gave me my daughter.
“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.
‘It’s all been worth it’
“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.
“They’d also always wanted a sister so it’s worked out for the best, to be honest. I’m still very happy with my decision.
“I told the boys that the Transformers are building me a new leg which they love - they keep asking when my Transformer leg will arrive and they think it’s very cool.”
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 the bone cancer and had most of her kneecap removed as well as two metal rods inserted into her leg.
Cancer free for 11 years
Kathleen was clear of cancer for 11 years and welcomed two sons, Hayden, now 9, and Leo, now 5, before she discovered that the cancer had returned in 2016, this time on her lungs.
She said: “About three or four months after I had my second son [Leo], I had pain all down my side and I couldn’t move, I was bent over in pain.
“I had a scan after the doctors found fluid on my lungs and that’s where they saw this big mass on my lung which they couldn’t biopsy as it was touching vital organs.
“It turned out the cancer was back, and within a week, I was back in hospital for chemo.
“Childhood cancer usually comes back within two or three years, but mine came back after 11. It was really rare, it’s not often they see that so they had to act quickly.”
Thankfully, the chemotherapy managed to shrink the cancer on Kathleen’s lung considerably and doctors only had to remove the lower lobe of her lung.
She was given the 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.
‘I thought I was going to lose my baby’
Kathleen said: “That’s how I found out I was pregnant - I had no idea!
“It was really scary because then I immediately thought I was going to lose my baby. I’d only just found out about her and then I thought I was going to lose her.
“The doctors gave me two choices. 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.
‘I did a lot of crying’
“My friend stayed with me that evening and I just cried a lot. I was really worried, I did a lot of crying, and my friend did a lot of crying with me.
“I thought I’d rather choose to keep my baby and lose my leg. I was probably going to lose my leg anyway so I might as well lose it now and keep my baby.
“I told the doctors the very next day, I said book it in and just do it. There was no point in me having too long to think about it because it would scare me even more.”
Ten days after making the difficult decision, Kathleen had surgery on November 17 to have her entire right leg amputated from her pelvis downwards.
She spent the first eight days after her amputation unable to look down at her remaining leg as she struggled to comprehend what had happened.
‘I really struggled to look down’
She said: “It was really hard. 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. I really struggled to look down at it, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
“I had to tell my boys before the surgery that my leg was being amputated, but I did it in a fun way to keep them from being scared or worried.
“They love Transformers so I said I had something bad in my leg and that the doctors needed to take it away but that Transformers were going to make me a new leg.
“They were like ‘really? That’s really cool’ and then they loved it. It was the only way I could think of how to tell them so I’ve just kept that story going.”
The amputation eradicated the cancer and Kathleen spent the rest of her pregnancy adjusting to life with one leg, using crutches the entire time after refusing a wheelchair.
Sadly, she still had to give birth eight weeks early after an MRI scan revealed cancer on her lungs had returned.
Kathleen said: “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.
“I was scared I was going to lose her because I was having her so early. I was worrying about how well she’d be and how big she’d be.
“Those two days were awful. All these things were running through my head about her and then about me being diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time as well.”
Thankfully, Kathleen’s daughter Aida-May is now a healthy and happy little girl after being born eight weeks early via a c-section on March 12.
With Kathleen’s fourth cancer now declared inoperable and terminal, she’s now doing all she can to make memories with her three kids whilst undergoing chemotherapy to give her more time with them.
‘I don’t know how long I have left’
Kathleen said: “We’ve got a little holiday booked for next month and I’ve made a Crowdfunding page to try and raise money so I can make as many memories with the kids as possible.
“That’s my only focus now - making memories with my children. I don’t know how long I have left, it could be years, it could be just months.
“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 but hopefully we can in the future.
“My focus is just doing as much with my kids as possible. It’s just them, I don’t really care about my dreams any more.
“As long as they have memories with me and they have as much fun with me as possible over however long we’ve got, then I’m happy.
“I can go then, as long as they’re happy.”
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