Northern Ireland

Cancer mum gives birth early to save son

A young Antrim mother with terminal cancer will have to give birth to her baby three months early to prolong her life without risking her unborn child.

Twenty-two year-old Terri Moore is suffering from a rare stomach cancer called Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour (GIST).

There are only about 25 cases of GIST treated in Northern Ireland each year and it is more common in older patients.

She is due to give birth on Monday.

Ms Moore first discovered a lump behind her navel after giving birth to her 17 month-old daughter.

She says doctors initially thought her lump was the result of a hernia.

Her symptoms got much worse shortly into her second pregnancy and just a few weeks ago further tests revealed she had a tumour.

"I was devastated. I was with my mum and partner, and it was such a shock for it to go from something we thought wasn't really anything to something so serious," she said.

"I'm determined to fight it; I have my family and this wee baby boy and my wee girl and we just want to do everything we can as a family because we don't know what we have to face."

'Second opinion'

Ms Moore says she regrets not seeking tests sooner but did not realise how serious her symptoms were until they worsened during her pregnancy.

"I would definitely tell people to get a second opinion and ask for tests if they are worried," she said.

Ms Moore is being treated with a drug called Glivec, and has been told chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments are not suitable for her and that the cancer has spread to her liver.

She has been advised that her pregnancy needs to end sooner rather than later so she can continue with her treatment.

'Too late'

Pregnancy usually lasts around 40 weeks but on Monday, 28 weeks into her pregnancy, Ms Moore will give birth to her baby son at Antrim Area Hospital.

She has already named him Max.

"I've been told babies born at 28 weeks can be sick but there is an 80 per cent survival rate so I hope he'll be okay," she said.

"He'll have to stay in the neo natal unit until he's well enough to come home.

"My biggest fear is missing him and his sister grow up but I'm determined to fight this and hopefully my age means I have a chance.

"I have too much to look forward to - there's no point looking back - but if I could change things I would have got the lump looked at and not left it until it was too late."

In a statement Ms Moore's GP said "We appreciate that this is a very difficult and traumatic time for Terri and her family, and we would like to assure her that the practice will continue to provide all the help and support that she needs".