A mother-to-be’s life was saved by her unborn baby after doctors discovered a rare form of rare cancer in her salivary glands.
Jade Palmer, 27, from Cardiff, was pregnant with her second child when she started suffering from painful migraines.
She raised the issue with her doctors during her pre-natal checks – but they couldn’t find anything wrong.
However, after agreeing to induce her baby at 38 weeks, an MRI scan at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff picked up a lump on her salivary gland, which doctors initially thought was benign.
It was later found to be a rare form of cancer in the salivary glands and Jade has insisted that were it not for her baby, it could have been a ‘completely different story’.
Jade Palmer, 27, from Cardiff, was saved by her unborn baby after doctors discovered a rare form of rare cancer in her salivary glands. She is pictured with partner Curtis Seale
An MRI scan at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff picked up a lump on her salivary gland which turned out to be cancer. Jade is pictured after her six-hour operation
She said: ‘If we hadn’t decided to have a child at that time in our lives, the cancer could have been found too late and it would be a completely different story.
‘In my eyes, being pregnant with my son saved my life.’
The rare form of cancer causes malignant cells to form in the tissues of the salivary glands, located under and behind your jaw, and only 720 people a year are diagnosed with it in Britain.
Jade had a six-hour operation to remove the lump leaving her with a nine-inch scar from her ear to her neck and was nursed back to health by partner Curtis Seale.
Jade has insisted that were it not for her baby, it could have been a ‘completely different story’. She is pictured with now six-month-old Salvador
Jade called the battle the ‘hardest experience of my life’. She is pictured with partner Curtis, son Salvador and eldest son, Theodore, aged three
She said: ‘It was the hardest experience of my life. I wear my scar with pride every day and I want it to be a reminder to people that cancer can happen to anyone at any time.’
Jade, a second-year psychology student, started suffering the migraines at 21 weeks and says she had no idea of her illness before the scan.
She said: ‘I didn’t know they had picked something up on the MRI. I was in the hospital for about a week because they said they wanted to keep an eye on me, but all of the tests came back fine and I was allowed to go home with medication.
Jade, a second-year psychology student, started suffering the migraines at 21 weeks pregnant and says she had no idea of her illness before the scan. She is pictured after the birth of Salvador
Jade was was nursed back to health by partner Curtis after the operation. She is pictured at home with children Salvador and Theodore
Jade got a letter four days after giving birth saying she had a lump and needed a biopsy. Pictured, Jade’s children Salvador and Theodore
‘My pregnancy was consultant-led from then on because of the migraines and at my 36-week appointment it was agreed I could be induced at 38-weeks because the headaches were so bad.
‘The doctor then went on to say that after giving birth I would get a letter explaining something neurological had been found during my MRI.
‘I was taken aback by it – I didn’t know what she meant.’
Jade, who is also mum to Theodore, three, got a letter four days after giving birth saying she had a lump and needed a biopsy.
Jade had a six-hour operation to remove the lump and now has a nine-inch scar from her ear to her neck
WHAT ARE SALIVARY GLAND TUMOURS?
There are several types of salivary glands in and around the human mouth, and all can fall victim to benign or cancerous tumours.
The glands are where saliva is produced to lubricate the mouth and throat and to digest food.
The three types of salivary gland are the parotid glands, the submandibular glands, and the sublingual glands.
Tumours in the parotid glands – which are just in front of the ears – are the most common, making up about 70 per cent of salivary gland tumours.
Submandibular tumours are the second most common, accounting for 10 to 20 per cent of tumours – the glands are just below the jaw.
The sublingual glands are the smallest and are in the bottom of the mouth under the tongue – tumours starting in these are rare.
Source: American Cancer Society
She said: ‘I was told I’d get a letter with my results in five to six weeks, but exactly seven days later I had a call to say I had to go in the following week.
‘It was at this point I knew something was wrong and I knew deep down they were going to tell me it was cancer. When they first told me, I was numb – I don’t think I expressed any emotion.
‘I went into complete shock, I hadn’t even heard of salivary gland cancer before. It wasn’t until I looked over to my mum and watched her break down that I started to cry.’
Jade said: ‘I keep thinking to myself that being pregnant and having the migraines saved my life’. She is pictured with partner Curtis
In April Jade had follow-up tests that showed the cancer hadn’t spread or returned. She is pictured with partner Curtis
In April she had follow-up tests that showed the cancer hadn’t spread or returned.
She said: ‘The migraines weren’t related to the cancer – it was a sheer coincidence that I had to have the MRI scan.
‘I keep thinking to myself that being pregnant and having the migraines saved my life.’