Human Interest

Pregnant mom diagnosed with cancer vows to keep fighting for her baby

An Australian mother who was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer at 22 weeks pregnant is fighting for two lives: her own and that of her preborn child.

Laura Corfield, 35, was excited to be pregnant, but felt like something was wrong; she was experiencing stomach pain and discomfort beyond the typical morning sickness. Doctors reassured her that it was a normal part of pregnancy, but eventually, they discovered the real problem: she had a cancerous tumor blocking her intestines.

“[The doctor] just came out with it. It was just a standard day for us and I was in total disbelief,” she told Yahoo News Australia. “They said it was aggressive and really advanced. They used all those words you don’t want to hear at that moment.”

Testing further revealed that the cancer had spread into the bowel wall, making it advanced, but radiation treatment was a “hands down no,” due to the risk it posed to her preborn son. There was the option of delivering the baby early, but he might not survive — which, to the Corfields, seemed like an issue of saving her life… or their son’s.

“They told us having a baby before 28 weeks would mean only a 50 percent chance of survival and a 75 percent chance of him having a neurological disorder,” she told The Courier Mail. “He would be born not breathing and they’d have to resuscitate him… if that’s what we wanted. There was a real possibility of us losing our baby and lots of tears between us both. We were trying to focus on just getting through it but it was a juggling act of how do we keep us both alive and well. Choosing between me and the baby came up just once. My husband said ‘I will always choose you.’ I wasn’t as agreeable.”

Eventually, with their medical team, they decided to wait until 30 weeks to deliver and then begin radiation after her baby is born. In the meantime, she has begun chemotherapy while pregnant, and finally having answers — and a plan — has left the couple more hopeful.

“I was so sick in the lead up that now we know he will survive it’s almost a relief to know what’s wrong with me and that it wasn’t just all in my head,” she said. “The stress of not knowing was worse. Whereas now we have a plan, we’re going to have our baby boy and I’m going to get through this treatment.”

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Corfield also spoke of the difficult road ahead, especially since she also has a toddler at home.

“The chemo will get worse. It’s daunting to have another baby while so sick and I’m nervous about doing radiation with a newborn. Juggling looking after a [preemie] baby, having a toddler, radiation, and a surgery to remove the tumor is terrifying to me. The guilt of having chemo and all of these invasive scans and tests while pregnant has also been eating away at me. But I’m just telling myself it’s going to be okay and trying to live one day at a time. I’m so grateful for my life and my family and friends. This has really put everything into perspective.”

For now, friends of the Corfield family have set up a GoFundMe to help pay for the expenses the family has to incur, with Corfield unable to work and her husband having to take time off to care for her and their daughter.

“I am so overwhelmed by the love and support shown to Brades, Quinny and I through messages, calls, food deliveries, flowers and now through a go fund me page. From the bottom of my heart, thank you,” she wrote in a mid-March update. “I am writing this currently from hospital while receiving my first round of chemotherapy and this has given me even more strength to fight this thing. It’s been a really tough two weeks from diagnosis to this point but I am so determined to grow old with my husband, watch my babies grow up, and make a million more memories with everyone I love.”

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