A mom who thought her spell of sickness was due to a pregnancy complication was shocked to discover the truth.
When Kylie Weatherby felt unwell and later collapsed at home, at 35 weeks pregnant, it was assumed she had pre-eclampsia, a relatively common condition in late pregnancy.
The 33-year-old was devastated to discover that her symptoms were actually being caused by a brain tumor the size of a satsuma.
When her beautiful babies arrived, Kylie should have been enjoying the experience of becoming a new mom.
Instead, she was coping with the news that her prognosis was terminal.
People with her brain tumor tend to live between 12 and 18 months.
Kylie said: “It was such awful news. I felt numb. Couldn’t take it in. Couldn’t process it.
“I had just become a mother to twins and now this had happened – would I live to see my babies grow up?”
Kylie grew up in Thetford, Norfolk, but moved to Alabama, US, in 2012.
Eight years later, she was delighted to discover that she was pregnant for the first time, with what turned out to be non-identical twins.
Kylie Weatherby had her tumor removed but her long-term prognosis is terminal. Kylie Wood/FacebookKylie says: “My pregnancy with the twins went really well. At 35 weeks pregnant, I was still well enough to be able to work.
“However, one Friday, after a busy week at work, I went to bed and suddenly woke up feeling unwell.
“I rushed to the bathroom, was violently sick and collapsed on the floor, having a seizure.
“My partner was asleep at the time, so knew nothing about what was going on, but thankfully our English bull terrier dog Rocco raised the alarm – he stood there barking until my ex woke up and came to find me.”
Kylie was rushed to an emergency room, where she was scanned and kept in for 24 hours of observation.
It was initially thought she may have had pre-eclampsia, a condition her own mother had suffered from during two of her pregnancies.
But Kylie was given a scan – and the results revealed she in fact had a brain tumor.
At this point, it wasn’t known whether the tumor was cancerous or not.
Kylie said: “It was a horrible shock, which left me reeling.
“All I could think of was, with this to cope with, how will I be able to care for my two babies?
“But there was even worse news to come for me, a little while later.”
Doctors allowed Kylie to continue with her pregnancy until about a week later, when on May 28 2021, she delivered a healthy boy and girl, Luca and Malena, by C-section.
Luca didn’t need to spend any time in the special care baby unit, but Malena spent two days on extra oxygen.
Four days after the birth, Kylie and her twins were allowed home.
However, in early June 2021, when the twins were just two weeks old, she was back in the hospital with excruciating head pain.
Kylie says: “I was rushed into surgery after it became apparent my brain had become so swollen that it was squashing my tumor and causing it to bleed.
“I needed to have a section of bone from my skull removed, to ease the pressure.
“The severe swelling meant it was not immediately possible to rebuild my skull. So I was sent home wearing a helmet to protect my brain, which in that area was then covered only by skin, for the next three weeks.
“That section of my skull was replaced, in a further operation, completed on July 1 2021.
“Incredibly, the bone tissue removed was kept alive in a hospital laboratory until it could be put back inside my head.”
Meanwhile, friends and colleagues in the US rallied around, organizing a rotation so that for eight weeks there was always somebody there to help Kylie with the twins, day and night.
She said: “There were people on the rota that I didn’t even know – friends of friends, and people from local churches. But I was so grateful to them all. How would I have managed without them?
“At that point, my family from the UK still weren’t being allowed to fly out to be with me, because of coronavirus restrictions.”
The day before her second surgery, doctors gave Kylie the shocking news that tests had revealed she had a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
GBM is an aggressive and fast-growing form of brain cancer with a devastatingly short survival time.
According to Brain Tumor Research, the average survival is 12-18 months.
However, 25 per cent of glioblastoma patients survive more than one year and 5 per cent of patients survive more than five years.
Medics warned her it was very likely the tumor would grow back, and her long-term prognosis was terminal.
Kylie said: “Home from the hospital again, there were a lot of tears. I realized that I needed to be back in the UK because I needed the love and support of my family, which includes my mom, my two brothers and my sister.”
Once she’d recovered from surgery, Kylie was given six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, designed to slow the progress of her cancer.
Ten months after giving birth, she is still living in the US, although she plans to return to the UK in June.
Thankfully, she is feeling well and currently showing no signs of disease. She’s had no further seizures since her operation.
Kylie is now being monitored with three-monthly scans, with the latest showing the tumor is “not currently detectable”.
Kylie said: “I am staying strong. It isn’t easy, but I cope by taking things one day at a time, and concentrate on enjoying seeing my beautiful son and daughter grow and thrive. Every moment with them is precious for me.
“I don’t know how much time I may have – but then again, none of us know that for sure.”
Brain tumors take the lives of more children and young adults than any other kind of cancer, but receive very little research funding.
Kylie is now working with the charity Brain Tumor Research to raise awareness of this, and in February, her mom, Barbara Hollands, 59, took part in the charity’s 10,000 Steps a Day Challenge.
Barbara, a mom-of-three from Thetford, said: “Kylie is amazing. Quite honestly, looking at her, it’s hard to believe she’s as poorly as she is.
“I don’t know where she gets her strength from, because when I think about what she is going through, I’m a wreck.”
Barbara, a nursing assistant at West Suffolk Hospital added: “I’m hoping I’m never going to lose Kylie, but I also have to face that possibility I might have two babies to bring up at some point.”
Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumor Research, said: “We’re really pleased to hear about Kylie’s latest results and welcome the support of her mom, in helping us to raise the funds needed to research better treatment options and outcomes for brain tumor patients and, ultimately, find a cure.
“The statistics speak for themselves. Brain tumors kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.
“Yet historically just 1 percent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. We’re working to change that.”
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.