Pregnant mum with cancer chooses to have leg amputated to save her unborn baby

·6 min read
Kathleen Osborne chose to have her leg amputated to save her unborn baby when she was diagnosed with cancer. (SWNS)
Kathleen Osborne chose to have her leg amputated to save her unborn baby when she was diagnosed with cancer. (SWNS)

A pregnant woman made the tough decision to have her leg amputated to save her unborn baby after being diagnosed with cancer.

Kathleen Osborne, 28, from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, had no idea she was pregnant when she went for an MRI scan, which diagnosed her with cancer for the third time.

News of her pregnancy left Osborne with two options; she could either abort her baby so she could start chemotherapy straight away or have her leg amputated.

The following day, and at four months pregnant, she made the life-changing decision to have her entire right leg amputated, in the hope of eradicating the cancer.

The operation was a success and Osborne went on to give birth to baby Aida-May eight weeks early, via c-section.

"I'm happy I made the decision to lose my leg because it gave me my daughter," Osborne explains. 

"If I'd not had my leg amputated then, I'd have lost 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."

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Osborne recovers in hospital. (SWNS)
Osborne recovers in hospital. (SWNS)

Osborne's cancer journey started in 2005, when she was just 11, after a painful lump on her right leg turned out to be osteosarcoma.

She had chemotherapy for the bone cancer and had most of her kneecap removed, as well as two metal rods inserted into her leg.

Having been clear of cancer for 11 years, she welcomed two sons, Hayden, now nine, and Leo, now five, before discovering in 2016 that the cancer had returned, this time on her lungs.

"About three or four months after I had my second son [Leo], I had pain all down my side and I couldn't move," she says. 

"I had a scan after the doctors found fluid on my lungs and that's where they saw this big mass on my lung.

"It turned out the cancer was back, and within a week, I was back in hospital for chemo.

"Childhood cancer usually comes back within two or three years, but mine came back after 11. It was really rare, it's not often they see that, so they had to act quickly."

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Osborne spent the rest of her pregnancy adjusting to life after having her leg amputated. (SWNS)
Osborne spent the rest of her pregnancy adjusting to life after having her leg amputated. (SWNS)

The chemotherapy managed to shrink the cancer considerably and doctors only had to remove the lower lobe of Osborne's lung.

She was given the all clear in March 2017, but just three and a half years later another painful lump appeared on the top of her right leg, which left her almost unable to walk.

An MRI scan revealed it was cancer but also showed a mysterious mass in her pelvis area, leading doctors to give Osborne a pregnancy test.

"I had no idea [I was pregnant]," explains Osborne.

"It was really scary because then I immediately thought I was going to lose my baby. I'd only just found out about her and then I thought I was going to lose her.

"The doctors gave me two choices. They said I could either terminate, have chemotherapy, have an operation and most likely lose my leg, or keep my baby and have my leg amputated straight away."

Watch: Kathy Griffin reveals lung cancer diagnosis. 

Though doctors gave Osborne a week to make her decision, she only took one night to decide what to do. 

"I thought I'd rather choose to keep my baby and lose my leg," she explains. "I was probably going to lose my leg anyway so I might as well lose it now and keep my baby.

"I told the doctors the very next day."

Osborne cuddles baby Aida-May. (SWNS)
Osborne cuddles baby Aida-May. (SWNS)

Ten days after making her decision, on 17 November, Osborne underwent surgery to have her entire right leg amputated from her pelvis downwards.

She spent the first eight days after her amputation unable to look down at her remaining leg as she struggled to comprehend what had happened.

"It was really hard," she says. "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."

The mum-of-three devised a clever way to explain to her sons what was happening to their mother. 

"I had to tell my boys before the surgery that my leg was being amputated, but I did it in a fun way to keep them from being scared or worried," she says. 

"They love Transformers so I said I had something bad in my leg and that the doctors needed to take away but that Transformers were going to make me a new leg.

"They were like: 'Really?! That's really cool!' It was the only way I could think of how to tell them so I've just kept that story going."

Read more: 'Why did Mummy die?' Grieving dad creates book of answers

Osborne has now been diagnosed with cancer again, pictured with her three children. (SWNS)
Osborne has now been diagnosed with cancer again, pictured with her three children. (SWNS)

Osborne spent the rest of her pregnancy adjusting to life with one leg, using crutches after having refused a wheelchair.

She had to give birth to her daughter eight weeks early after an MRI scan revealed cancer on her lungs had returned.

Thankfully, Aida-May is now a healthy and happy little girl despite being born so early. 

While doctors have told Osborne her fourth cancer is inoperable and terminal, she's doing all she can to make memories with her three kids whilst undergoing chemotherapy to give her more time with them.

"That's my only focus now - making memories with my children. I don't know how long I have left, it could be years, it could be just months," she says. 

"As long as they have memories with me and they have as much fun with me as possible over however long we've got, then I'm happy.

"I can go then, as long as they're happy."

Additional reporting SWNS.

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