Woman Who Thought She Was Pregnant Actually Had Cancer

By Paula Liu

A British woman who thought she was pregnant with a baby found out at 12 weeks that the pregnancy was actually a cancerous growth, according to multiple reports.

Grace Baker-Padden, a 23-year-old woman from Wilmington, Durham, was surprised to learn that she was pregnant. After visiting the doctors, she underwent several tests after which her doctor concluded that she was pregnant, according to The Sun. She and her husband, Joe Cowling, told their parents of the news and even began to pick names for their potential baby-to-be.

“We decided to proceed with the pregnancy. We were so happy and excited. Our parents couldn’t wait to be first-time grandparents,” Baker-Padden said, according to AOL.

She experienced similar symptoms to that of an actual pregnancy, from vomiting every day to a swelling stomach, The Sun reported. She thought nothing of it and assumed that she was undergoing these experiences because she was pregnant.

However, when she began to notice blood spots when she vomited, she began to worry that they were the signs of a miscarriage and immediately sought out a doctor to check up on her baby. When she went to the University Hospital of North Durham in February 2018, she was taken in for a scan of her belly, at which point both Baker-Padden and Cowling noticed that something was not right, the Mirror reported.

“There was no baby shape—it looked like bunch of grapes. The midwife said it looked like a ‘molar pregnancy,’ and went to find a doctor,” Cowling said. He said that the two of them did a search on what that term meant, and began to worry that what Baker-Padden had might lead to cancer, according to the Mirror.

Her case was indeed revealed to be a molar pregnancy, a gestational trophoblastic disease, which happens when a non-fertilized egg impacts in a woman’s uterus. The disease causes a woman’s hormones to rise, mimicking the symptoms of a pregnancy. According to Today’s Parent, a parenting information website, it is a rare condition that happens in one out of 1,000 pregnancies.

“It was such a shock. From planning this exciting new future as a family to suddenly no baby and my health at risk was awful,” Baker-Padden said, according to the Mirror. “I just wanted the horrible mass out of me immediately.”

In the next few days, the mass in her belly was removed, and tests showed that the cancer ended up being malignant. Baker-Padden spent the next six months at the hospital undergoing chemotherapy in order to get her hormones under control. The Mirror reported that she was taken for further tests to the Teenage Cancer Trust in Sheffield, an organization in the UK that helps care for young people with cancer.

“They were confident I could be treated but it was scary,” Baker-Padden said of the tests and process. “I had to stay two nights. Thankfully Joe was able to stay over on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit with me—we had our own room with a TV and an en suite.”

According to the Mirror, she spent eight weeks undergoing four more rounds of chemotherapy at the hospital as an outpatient before she was given stronger medication in December 2018. Baker-Padden said that the treatment made her weak but fortunately, she did not lose her hair though it did thin a bit, the outlet reported.

Two days following Christmas 2018, she was allowed to leave, but continued treatment as a precaution.

“The relief was incredible. We just wanted to be normal again and planned a holiday to celebrate,” Baker-Padden said. Her husband said that the entire process was a hard journey, but he was ultimately glad that his wife was healthy. Doctors did warn the couple that there was a 15 percent chance that it could occur again.

According to the Mirror, the couple still plan to have a baby, but it has to wait at least a year in order to make sure that Baker-Padden’s body hormone levels are normal again.

“We’re scared to try again after what happened,” Cowling said. “We’ll wait a while.”

According to the news outlet, in order to thank the Teenage Cancer Trust for everything that they did for his wife, Cowling entered the Great North Run in order to raise $2,470 (£2,000) for the organization. Baker-Padden said that she was emotional about her husband tackling the run because, like her husband, she was also very thankful for the care and help they provided to her.

In a post written on her Facebook on Aug. 31, she asked people to help by donating to the Great North Run Fundraising page.

“With a little over a week left to go till the Great North Run, my self and Joe would be very grateful if you could all take a moment to visit [Joe’s] just giving page and give whatever you can to an amazing cause,” Baker-Padden wrote. “He’s not far off target now and I promised the Teenage Cancer unit that he’d hit his target…so pressure on!”

“I feel really emotional about him doing it because it’s such a good cause,” Baker-Padden said. “We’ve seen them help so many people along the way.”