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Kent mother says baby son’s ‘hidden’ unborn twin caused her cancer

Leanne Crawley, 38, was diagnosed with a rare and fast-growing cancer

A mother-of-four has revealed how she was left fighting for life after she developed cancer – from her baby son’s hidden unborn twin.

Leanne Crawley, 38, had no idea she was carrying twins until she was rushed to hospital six weeks after baby Louee was born.

Doctors discovered he had been ‘hiding’ a second molar pregnancy, which was then removed – but left behind a rare and fast growing cancer.

The cells spread to her lungs forcing her to endure five months of super-strength chemotherapy, 20 blood transfusions and an entire month in hospital.

Ms Crawley, from Orpington, Kent, who is now cancer free, said: ‘As odd as that sounds, Louee’s twin very nearly killed us both.

‘I was basically pregnant with my tumour. The twin caused the cancer, and the cancer nearly killed us both.

‘I have never really thought of it like that – but then I still can’t believe I had cancer.

‘It was a huge ordeal trying to deal with a newborn, the other children, then finding out I had been pregnant with twins, and then the cancer.

‘I’m just glad I was able to fight it and it was all picked up and I can plan a future with Louee and my family.’

Giving birth to Louee 

Ms Crawley became pregnant with Louee just months after giving birth to daughter Francesca, now two, with her long term partner Andrew Smith, 28.

The scans all appeared normal, but he was born ‘grey and lifeless’ in December 2016 and tests revealed he had lost a lot of blood.

‘They don’t know exactly what happened but they think he bled through me and while we didn’t know it at the time, they think it was down to the cancer,’ she said.

Doctors discovered baby Louee had been 'hiding' a second molar pregnancy, which was then removed - but left behind a rare and fast growing cancer

Doctors discovered baby Louee had been ‘hiding’ a second molar pregnancy, which was then removed – but left behind a rare and fast growing cancer

The cells spread to her lungs forcing her to endure five months of super-strength chemo, 20 blood transfusions and an entire month in hospital (scan of Louee)

The cells spread to her lungs forcing her to endure five months of super-strength chemo, 20 blood transfusions and an entire month in hospital (scan of Louee)

WHAT IS A MOLAR PREGNANCY?

A molar pregnancy occurs when a lump of abnormal cells grows in the womb instead of a healthy foetus.

A ‘complete mole’ is when there is no foetus, while a ‘partial’ occurs when a foetus starts to form but cannot develop into a baby.

Around one in 590 pregnancies in the UK, and one in 1,000 in the US, are molar. 

Many women have no symptoms and are unaware they are having molar pregnancies until routine ultrasound scans.

Some may experience:

  • Vaginal bleeding or dark discharge
  • Severe morning sickness
  • An unusually swollen abdomen

Treatment often involves removing the abnormal cells via suction.

Medication may also be necessary.

Treatment may also be required to remove any leftover abnormal cells, which can turn cancerous.

Molar pregnancies do not affect women’s chances of conceiving in the future.

Source: NHS Choices 

Louee spent more than three weeks in hospital, on life support, in a cooling machine and in an incubator.

His organs had started to shut down due to losing 80 per cent of his blood and he was put in an induced coma and given donor blood to bring him back to health.

Rushed back to hospital 

Two days after he came home, Ms Crawley was still bleeding heavily and was rushed to hospital where medics operated to remove what they thought was part of Louee’s placenta.

But after another two weeks of heavy bleeding, she was admitted to hospital again.

A second operation revealed she had been carrying a molar pregnancy, and surgeons removed the remains left from the first op.

The abnormal form of pregnancy happens when a non-viable fertilized egg implants in the uterus, and hers was around the size of a three-month-old foetus.

Ms Crawley, from Kent, who is now cancer free, said: 'As odd as that sounds, Louee's twin very nearly killed us both'

Ms Crawley, from Kent, who is now cancer free, said: ‘As odd as that sounds, Louee’s twin very nearly killed us both’

Ms Crawley became pregnant with Louee just months after giving birth to daughter Francesca, now two, with her long term partner Andrew Smith, 28 (pictured after her cancer diagnosis)

Ms Crawley became pregnant with Louee just months after giving birth to daughter Francesca, now two, with her long term partner Andrew Smith, 28 (pictured after her cancer diagnosis)

In very rare occasions, twins are conceived and one develops normally – like Louee – from a second healthy egg, but usually the healthy baby is consumed by the growth.

Around half of women who have a molar-type pregnancy go on to develop a very rare womb cancer called choriocarcinoma, due to the growth of the abnormal cells.

What cancer did she have? 

Ms Crawley was diagnosed with the fast-growing cancer a week after the molar pregnancy was discovered and removed, when Louee was three months old. 

She said: ‘After the operation to remove the molar pregnancy they asked me if I wanted a funeral and things like that for the twin.

‘It was a lot to take in and I was just like “what is going on”. They never knew there were two in there.

‘All you could see on the scan was Louee and it all looked normal. It turned out Louee had been hiding it all along, protecting me.

The scans all appeared normal, but he was born 'grey and lifeless' in December 2016 and tests revealed he had lost a lot of blood (pictured with a filter)

The scans all appeared normal, but he was born ‘grey and lifeless’ in December 2016 and tests revealed he had lost a lot of blood (pictured with a filter)

Louee spent more than three weeks in hospital, on life support, in a cooling machine and in an incubator (pictured with his mother)

Louee spent more than three weeks in hospital, on life support, in a cooling machine and in an incubator (pictured with his mother)

His organs had started to shut down due to losing 80 per cent of his blood and he was put in an induced coma and given donor blood to bring him back to health (pictured in hospital)

His organs had started to shut down due to losing 80 per cent of his blood and he was put in an induced coma and given donor blood to bring him back to health (pictured in hospital)

Two days after he came home, Ms Crawley was still bleeding heavily and was rushed to hospital where medics operated to remove what they thought was part of Louee's placenta (pictured recently, after cancer treatment)

Two days after he came home, Ms Crawley was still bleeding heavily and was rushed to hospital where medics operated to remove what they thought was part of Louee’s placenta (pictured recently, after cancer treatment)

‘The molar pregnancy had caused the cancer and it had already spread to my lungs.

‘They said they didn’t want it to get to my brain and I started chemo into my veins that night.’

Cancer treatment 

She had 15 hours of chemotherapy each week and 20 blood transfusions, and also nearly died when a blood clot traveled to her lung during her four-week hospital admission.

Ms Crawley, who also has daughters Olivia, 12, and Charlotte, nine, said: ‘That in itself is even rarer than the cancer.’

Doctors gave her the all clear last September, but she is still fighting back to fitness, due to the intense chemotherapy.  

She said: ‘The whole experience nearly destroyed us all, but I had so much support from my friends and family.

‘I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone, but obviously I would take it all again if it was a choice between me and Louee.’ 

But after another two weeks of heavy bleeding, she was admitted to hospital again. A second operation revealed she had been carrying a molar pregnancy, and surgeons removed the remains left from the first operation (Louee is pictured)

But after another two weeks of heavy bleeding, she was admitted to hospital again. A second operation revealed she had been carrying a molar pregnancy, and surgeons removed the remains left from the first operation (Louee is pictured)

Ms Crawley was diagnosed with choriocarcinoma a week after the molar pregnancy was discovered and removed, when Louee was three months old 

Ms Crawley was diagnosed with choriocarcinoma a week after the molar pregnancy was discovered and removed, when Louee was three months old 

Ms Crawley said: 'After the operation to remove the molar pregnancy they asked me if I wanted a funeral and things like that for the twin' (pictured in hospital)

Ms Crawley said: ‘After the operation to remove the molar pregnancy they asked me if I wanted a funeral and things like that for the twin’ (pictured in hospital)

Doctors gave her the all clear last September, but she is still fighting back to fitness, due to the intense chemotherapy (pictured with her daughter Francesca and son Louee in hospital)

Doctors gave her the all clear last September, but she is still fighting back to fitness, due to the intense chemotherapy (pictured with her daughter Francesca and son Louee in hospital)



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