Karen

I had a molar pregnancy in September 2001. I was only just turning 24 at the time and was working away from home at a holiday site. At the time I only knew that there were pregnancies or miscarriages; I had never heard of a molar pregnancy. I found out that I was pregnant and was shocked. I told my boyfriend and my parents, and they were all over the moon. We decided that we would carry on working at the holiday site until after Christmas so that we had some money, and then would go back to my parents’ house to live.

Yet at the beginning of November I became really ill. I couldn’t stop being sick and couldn’t keep anything down. I knew then that I had to give up my job and go home. My boyfriend (Jamie) and I finished work and headed back to my home in Cornwall. I had already started spotting by then and didn’t have any energy. It was the worst time of my life.

When we arrived home I had an appointment with the doctor. He said all was fine, and the midwife came a few days later and listened to what she thought was the baby’s heartbeat. Within a few more days I couldn’t even open my hands. My boyfriend and my parents rushed me back to the doctor, and he looked me over again. He could see that I wasn’t well, so I had to do a water test, and when he tested it he found traces of protein in it and phoned straight up the hospital and booked me in. When I got there they put me on an IV drip and made me blow into a paper bag, which I couldn’t because my hands wouldn’t open. The next day I went down for an ultrasound. I was so hoping that everything was going to be fine, but the woman had a look and all she could say to us was that there was nothing there, and then she put us into the waiting room. (Who was she to tell us that we had no baby? She was not a doctor.)

We returned back to the ward, where the midwife said that the doctor would be up soon to speak to me. None of us could understand what was going on. The doctor came into the room and informed us that I had had a molar pregnancy, a complete molar pregnancy, so there was no baby and that it was a 1 in 1,200 chance of having it. I had my D&C in the next few days but lost two pints of blood, so I had to stay in longer than I had hoped. I returned home just in time for Christmas.

Just after Christmas I received a letter instructing me to have another ultrasound to check that my womb was all clear. The doctor did this one, and he told me that in 1 in 10 cases the complete mole keeps growing and could burrow into the lining of the womb and maybe spread to other organs—a persistent or invasive mole. He then said that it looked like mine was heading that way, turning into what they call choriocarcinoma (cancerous). He referred me to Charing Cross Hospital in London, and they asked if I could come up in a couple of days to begin treatment. My mum came with me, as it was a long way to go from Cornwall. I had a week of the low-risk treatment at the hospital, then returned home and had to go to the doctor’s for the rest of my treatment.

At the time, my Nan was dying from cancer in her gullet, and around the same time she died I was told that my chemo was not bringing my hcg level down and to stop treatment until they decided what to do next. Two days later my mum and I were back up to London for the start of the new treatment. I stayed for another week and had the higher treatment to get my levels to go down faster. I also had to have three lumbar punctures, one every other week, because the cells had spread to one of my lungs. I returned home to finish my treatment at the local hospital. All in all, I would say that I visited Charing Cross Hospital fewer than 10 times, and I am happy to report that I have been given the all-clear—my cancer is gone—so in the future if I become pregnant I just hope that it does not return again.

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