After receiving an MRI scan, doctors told the 28-year-old that she had two options: either to abort her baby so she could start chemotherapy, or to have a ʟᴇɢ ᴀᴍᴘᴜᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ. A day later, Kathleen decided to have her entire right ʟᴇɢ ᴀᴍᴘᴜᴛᴀᴛᴇᴅ, to get rid of the bone ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ. The operation was a success and Kathleen gave birth to baby Aida-May eight weeks early, via c-section.
Kathleen says: ‘I’m happy I made the decision to lose my leg because it gave me my daughter. If I’d not had my ʟᴇɢ ᴀᴍᴘᴜᴛᴀᴛᴇᴅ then, I’d have ʟᴏsᴛ her and I’d have been going through chemotherapy which might not even have saved my leg in the end anyway. I wouldn’t have her if I didn’t do it so it’s all been worth it.’
Kathleen, from Wisbech, was already a mum to nine-year-old Hayden and five-year-old Leo – but says she’s thrilled to now have a daughter, too. She says: ‘I’d always wanted a little Gɪʀʟ after having my two Bᴏʏs first and now she’s here so I’m happy I did it. They’d also always wanted a sister so it’s worked out for the best, to be honest. I’m still very happy with my decision. I told the Bᴏʏs that the Transformers are building me a new leg which they love – they keep aSᴋɪɴg when my Transformer leg will arrive and they think it’s very cool.’
The mum-of-three was first diagnosed with ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ when she was just 11 years old – after a painful lump on her right leg turned out to be osteosarcoma in 2005. Kathleen had chemotherapy for the bone ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ and had most of her kneecap removed, as well as two metal rods inserted into her leg. Then, 11 years later, she discovered that the ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ had returned in 2016 – this time on her lungs. After treatment Kathleen was given the all clear in March 2017 – but three years later another painful lump on the top of her right leg appeared. This was when the mum found out she was Pʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ for the third time.
Kathleen says: ‘The doctors gave me two choices. They said I could either terminate my baby, have chemotherapy, have an operation and most likely lose my leg, or keep my baby and have my leg amputated straight away. They gave me a week to make the decision and told me the sooner I had the surgery, the better. I thought I’d rather choose to keep my baby and lose my leg. I was probably going to lose my leg anyway so I might as well lose it now and keep my baby.’
For eight days after her amputation, Kathleen was unable to look down at her remaining leg. She adds: ‘It was really hard. Towards the end of the eight days, I did glance down but it was really weird looking at the blanket on top of me. I could see one heap where my leg was and then nothing next to it. I really struggled to look down at it, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.’
For the rest of her pregnancy Kathleen used crutches to get around. However, Kathleen had to give birth to Aida-May eight weeks early, after another MRI scan revealed the ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ on her lungs had returned. Kathleen has been told by medics this fourth ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ is inoperable and terminal – so she’s now doing all she can to spend time with her three kids while undergoing chemotherapy.
She adds: ‘I don’t know how long I have left, it could be years, it could be just months. I just want to do as many things as they want to do. They really want to go to Disneyland which we can’t do yet due to Covid-19 but hopefully we can in the future. As long as they have memories with me and they have as much fun with me as possible. I can go then, as long as they’re happy.’