A mother-of-four is claiming that was left fighting for life when she developed cancer stemming from her baby son’s hidden unborn twin.
Leanne Crawley, 38, had no idea she had been pregnant with twins until she was rushed to hospital six weeks after baby Louee was born.
Doctors discovered he had been “hiding” a second pregnancy which was then removed – but left behind a very rare 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.
“As odd as that sounds, Louee’s twin very nearly killed us both,” Crawley, from Kent, said. “I was basically pregnant with my tumor .The twin caused the cancer, and the cancer nearly killed us both.”
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“I have never really thought of it like that – but then I still can’t believe I had cancer,” she said. “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,” Crawley said.
The full time mom got pregnant with Louee just a few months after giving birth to daughter Francesca, now 2, with her long term partner Andrew Smith.
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.
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 percent of his blood and he was put in an induced coma and given donor blood to bring him back to health.
Two days after he came home, 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’d 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 Crawley’s was around the size of a three-month-old feutus.
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.
Crawley was diagnosed with the fast-growing cancer a week after the molar pregnancy was discovered and removed, when Louee was 3-months-old.
“After the operation to remove the molar pregnancy they asked me if I wanted a funeral and things like that for the twin,” Crawley, also mom to daughters Olivia, 12, and Charlotte, 9, said. “It was a lot to take in and I was just like ‘what is going on.'”
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“They never knew there were two in there,” she said. “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 molar pregnancy had caused the cancer and it had already spread to my lungs,” Crawley said. “They said they didn’t want it to get to my brain and I started chemo into my veins that night.”
She had 15 hours of chemotherapy per week and 20 blood transfusions, and also nearly died when a blood clot traveled to her lung during her four-week hospital admission.
“That in itself is even rarer than the cancer,” she said.
She was given the all clear last September, but is still fighting back to fitness, due to the intense chemotherapy.
“Louee’s twin nearly killed us both,” she said. “When I fell pregnant, I never thought that would be the outcome. 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,” she said.