My name is Ridma and this is mine and my son Dion’s story.
I was 12 weeks pregnant in July 2015 when I noticed that I had yellowish eyes and my skin tone had changed. I’d been vomiting and been unable to eat a lot.
I went to the GP who advised me to go to the hospital. Anxious, I did a couple of blood tests and was admitted. I’d been so excited with the pregnancy, this was a shock to the system.
We did a bone marrow biopsy and I was told the news. I had lymphoma – and an aggressive one at that. This was possibly the worst day of my life.
Doctors told me that I had to have chemotherapy. While all this was going on, we were constantly checking on our unborn baby.
I think he may have broken some record for the number of ultrasounds. He was battling along inside, while I was battling to keep alive.
I had a liver infection after the second chemotherapy. I then had an operation to remove the stent which was helping me eat. I went through more than 20 hours without food at one stage.
Doctors advised me to keep the baby inside for as long as I could, however at about 26 weeks, we were told he had developed hydrops – a condition where there is an accumulation of excessive fluid – and it could spread to his brain.
We had a meeting with two of the top surgeons, who said our baby had to be terminated because we don’t have facilities here in Australia to treat him – there may be the option of going to America to do it.
They left us to decide. The baby was part of me, but my family was convincing me to do as much as I can to survive first then worry about the baby later.
Thankfully, we didn’t have to worry for too long about the baby. Thanks to divine intervention, on the 6th of October 2015, our miracle boy was born. He was 10 weeks early, and 1.2 Kgs and 41cms, but we didn’t care. This was a ray of sunshine during a terrible stretch of misfortune and agony. We named him Dion.
Ridma with her family.
Dion had surgery for his hydrops on the second day of his life. He was kept in the hospital for two months where he was cared for by the brilliant staff.
Meanwhile, I was getting chemotherapy still and I’d lost my hair. But that was the least of my worries. At that point, I just wanted to be Mum.
I don’t know how, but somehow my results got better. By December 2015 the doctors were giving me positive vibes. They said the word remission a few weeks later. My boy came home on the 8th of December.
I still get nervous whenever I feel unwell, however I feel much better and stronger because of what I have gone through. I’m now back at work and I’m still being supported by the terrific doctors that looked after me.
If there was any doubt that life was short, my experience just reinforced it. Don’t take life for granted.
Being diagnosed with cancer while pregnant is uncommon, but it does happen, and it can be a very overwhelming experience. To help support you or your loved ones to navigate both cancer and pregnancy, we've created a dedicated online resource, which includes information on treatment options, changes to birth plans, breastfeeding, termination and miscarriage, and future fertility.
It also includes connections to reputable and trusted support services, and more stories from women who have personally been diagnosed with cancer while pregnant. For more information, call 13 11 20 to speak to our compassionate cancer nurses.