- Samantha Beaven suffered symptoms while pregnant with daughter Daisy
- Claims she visited hospital 10 times after suffering bleeding and cramping
- Doctors dismissed the signs as normal part of pregnancy
- She went into labour at just 26 weeks and they discovered cervical cancer
- Baby Daisy was born drastically underweight at just 2lb 2oz
- After chemotherapy and radiotherapy Mrs Beaven thought she was all clear
- But the cancer had spread to her lungs and she has 12 to 18 months to live
- Married partner Alex and has made memory boxes for her two daughters
- She hopes to make Christmas, possibly her last, extra special
A mother diagnosed with terminal cancer is preparing for what could be her last Christmas after doctors mistook bleeding and cramping as signs of pregnancy.
Samantha Beaven went into premature labour with her second daughter at just 26 weeks.
It was only then that doctors discovered the 28-year-old had cervical cancer.
She barely had time to come to terms with the news when her daughter Daisy was born 14 weeks early, drastically underweight at 2lb 2oz and battling for life.
Both mother and daughter were treated in the same hospital but while Daisy is now thriving, Mrs Beaven has been told her cancer has spread and is now terminal.
Samantha Beaven, 28 (centre), has incurable cancer and has been told she has just 12 to 18 months left with her two daughters, Bracken, six (right) and Daisy, one month old (left)
In May she was given 12 to 18 months to live. But she has vowed to fight the illness for as long as possible for the sake of Daisy and her older daughter Bracken, six.
She decided to marry her partner – and the girls’ father – Alex, and is determined to give her family their best Christmas ever knowing it may be their last together.
Mrs Beaven said: ‘I have promised them I will be here for them for as long as I can.
‘There are times when I feel overwhelmed and scared and then I look at them and I know I have to stay strong.
‘Daisy fought so hard to live after being born so early that I owe her and Bracken the same.
‘I want to make this Christmas so special for them. I hope to create some special memories for us all.’
She is currently funding alternative treatments with donations from well wishers to extend her time with her girls.
She said: ‘Every day it buys me with them is worth it and I am extremely grateful to the people who have fundraised to help give me that precocious time.
‘I just want to make enough memories for my girls to last them a lifetime.’
She hopes sharing her story will raise awareness of cervical cancer, especially in pregnant women.
‘People need to know pregnant women can get cervical cancer too,’ she told MailOnline.
WHAT IS CERVICAL CANCER?
Cervical cancer is an uncommon type of cancer that develops in a woman’s cervix, the entrance to the womb from the vagina.
Cervical cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages.
The most common symptom is unusual vaginal bleeding, which can occur after sex, in-between periods or after the menopause.
In the UK, the NHS offers a national screening programme open to all women from the age of 25.
During screening, a cervical smear test is performed. A small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and checked under a microscope for abnormalities.
If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it’s usually possible to treat it using surgery.
In some cases it’s possible to leave the womb in place, but it may need to be removed.
The surgical procedure used to remove the womb is called a hysterectomy.
Radiotherapy is an alternative to surgery for some women with early stage cervical cancer. In some cases it is used alongside surgery.
More advanced cases of cervical cancer are usually treated using a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Some of the treatments used can have significant and long-lasting side effects, including early menopause and infertility.
‘The signs were all there but dismissed as pregnancy symptoms and I’m afraid that has cost me my life.’
Mrs Beaven, a primary school teaching assistant from Brighton, suffered severe bleeding and cramping from the start of her pregnancy.
She claims she went to hospital on multiple occasions, but tests had failed to detect the true cause.
Mrs Beaven said: ‘I felt strongly that something was very wrong. I’d never experienced anything like it with my first pregnancy.
‘I must have gone to hospital bleeding at least 10 times only to be told nothing was wrong.
‘But eventually I had to take the doctors and midwives at their word and trust that things were OK.’
Fearing she was experiencing contractions just 26 weeks into her pregnancy, Mrs Beaven went to hospital in October 2013.
At the Royal Sussex County Hospital a midwife examined her cervix for the first time.
She confirmed that at just 26 weeks Mrs Beaven was 2cm dilated but also revealed she had seen a lesion that was causing the bleeding.
Mrs Beaven said: ‘Initially I felt relieved to finally have an answer and assurance that my baby was not in danger.’
But it was only when doctors said they needed to perform a biopsy on the 7cm mass that she realised she might be in danger.
Doctors administered steroid injections to help her baby’s lungs develop in preparation for birth.
Two days later, Mrs Beaven learned she had cancer.
She said: ‘When the specialist came to my bedside and said he was an oncologist my heart sank to the pit of my stomach. I knew what it meant.
‘When he said I had cervical cancer my hands went straight to my bump. I just kept saying to him “but I’m about to have a baby”.’
It became clear that all her symptoms, bleeding, discharge, back pain and stomach pain had slipped under the radar because they are associated with normal pregnancies too.
Mrs Beaven said: ‘Of course I was shocked and disappointed that it hadn’t been picked up earlier but there wasn’t time for ifs and buts because I needed to focus on my unborn baby.’
It was discovered Mrs Beaven had cervical cancer when she went into labour with baby Daisy (left) prematurely at 26 weeks. The cancer spread to her lungs and she was told it was terminal. She hopes to make this Christmas, possibly her last, extra special
Doctors agreed they needed to keep the baby, a girl Mrs Beaven and her husband had already named Daisy, inside her to increase her chance of survival.
They planned to deliver her by C-section at 30 weeks and perform a full hysterectomy to fight the cancer at the same time.
Initially drugs to slow labour worked and Mrs Beaven was sent home to rest. But the following night her waters broke at home and because the baby was breech.
She was rushed into surgery on October 27.
She said: ‘I came round and saw Alex was smiling. He told me Daisy had been born crying and nobody could believe she was already breathing on her own.’
But the odds were stacked against her as she weighed just 2lbs 2oz, much less than the average of 7lb 4oz for girls in the UK.
Mrs Beaven said: ‘At first I was too scared to see her but Daisy was so strong I knew I had to be strong too. I couldn’t touch or hold her but she was so beautiful.
Days later Mrs Beaven started chemotherapy and radiotherapy while Daisy continued to make good progress.
They were treated in different wards at the same hospital. But at five weeks old Daisy contacted necrotising enterocolitis, a life-threatening bowel condition common in premature babies.
After being told she had terminal cancer, Mrs Beaven (right) decided to marry partner Alex (left). They arranged the wedding in two weeks. Here, the pair are pictured on their big day
At seven weeks old she needed surgery to remove a 10cm portion of her bowel.
Still weighing just 3lbs, staff warned she may not survive.
To their relief and joy, Daisy pulled through and Mrs Beaven drew on her tiny daughter’s strength to fight her own battle.
She said: ‘I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. At times I felt utter disbelief that this was happening to us, but I just needed to think of her and my family to keep going.’
Three months after she was born Daisy was finally discharged. Weeks later more good news came when Mrs Beaven was told her treatment had been a success.
Scans had shown there was no longer any sign of cancer in her cervix.
Mrs Beaven is currently funding alternative treatments through donations from well-wishers
‘Since Daisy had been born we had taken life one day at a time, but finally it felt like we could think about the future,’ she said.
‘It was like we’d both had death sentences lifted.’
But their joy was short-lived. In May Mrs Beaven developed a nasty cough that wouldn’t shift, so visited her GP.
On her fourth visit to the doctor a scan confirmed her worst fear. The cancer had spread to her lungs and was terminal; she was given 12 to 18 months to live.
‘It was like the rug had been pulled from beneath us all over again,’ she said.
‘I was in shock. I cried for two weeks solidly. I just couldn’t believe that after all that I was going to be taken from them anyway.’
But after starting the heartbreaking task of making memory boxes and filming videos to be shown to her daughters when they were older, Mrs Beaven instead decided to put her energy into something positive and told family she wanted to get married.
The couple had been engaged for three years and Mr Beaven planned their wedding in just two weeks.
Their daughters were bridesmaids and shortly after Mrs Beaven started a course of chemotherapy to try and extend her life.
She also researched alternative therapies to boost her health allow her to make the most of the time she has left.
She is currently funding the treatment, which she says is keeping her strong, from money raised through fundraising and donations from well wishers.
She said: ‘Thanks to them I can go on being mum and try to enjoy as much time as possible with my beautiful girls.
‘From what doctors have told me this could be my last Christmas with them so I want to make it the best ever.’
For more information, or to donate, please visit Mrs Beaven’s fundraising page.