Laura Mahon

5 min read

Laura Mahon, 30, from St Helens, was 20 weeks pregnant with her daughter when she woke up and couldn’t move her toes. Over the following week, she was unable to feel much of her right leg. Her GP immediately sent her to The Walton Centre in Liverpool for an MRI scan, which revealed she had a terminal glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumour. Laura was faced with the difficult choice of having the baby early, at 30 weeks, or risk her own health. Baby Sienna was born on 30 November 2021. Sienna suffered a punctured lung and spent a week on an incubator. She is now doing well and is putting on weight. Unfortunately, new mum Laura was told she has just two years to live.

Laura tells her story…

My husband, Danny, and I were so excited about the prospect of having our first child together.

One morning in September 2021, when I was 20 weeks pregnant, I woke up and realised that my toes on my right foot weren’t moving. I didn’t think too much about it, after all I was pregnant and was feeling tired. But things got worse the next day and I could no longer move my right leg and was struggling to walk.

Laura Mahon Case Study - Brain Tumour Research

I was now 24 weeks pregnant, so I went to see my GP, who thought the baby was lying on a nerve and causing the problems. He sent me to The Walton Centre for an MRI scan of my back. It came back clear, but I was sent for another MRI scan on my brain to make sure everything was OK.

Laura Mahon GBM brain tumour - Brain Tumour Research

I was only in the machine for five minutes when they pulled me out. They said that they could see something, so they sent me back into the scanner. I lay there for an hour, and I could see into the radiology room as doctors appeared, all looking at my scan. I was pulled into a room with my mum and was told the devastating news that I had a brain tumour. They told me it had more than likely been there for years and years and had now started growing.

“It was such a shock, I was only 29 and didn’t think something like this could happen to me. I was so focused on the baby, but I was getting more poorly.”

Because I was pregnant, the treatment options were limited. The doctors told me that this was a very unique case, and they wanted to monitor me before deciding what to do.

Laura Mahon GBM Case Study - Brain Tumour Research

“When I was 27 weeks pregnant, I became really poorly and could hardly walk, and after many heart-breaking conversations, Danny and I made the toughest decision of our lives.”

I couldn’t walk properly, I was being sick, and I was so tired, so we decided to bring our daughter into the world at 30 weeks. At my planned caesarean section, the midwifery team put me under general anaesthetic so that I was totally relaxed. They didn’t want to put any pressure on my brain because of the risk of causing further complications.

On 30 November 2021, our beautiful daughter Sienna Grace Laura Mahon was born, weighing just 3.4lbs, at Warrington Hospital. Sienna was taken to the neonatal ward where she was placed in an incubator. She developed pneumothorax - a collapsed lung – so she was transferred to Royal Oldham Hospital because she needed a higher care unit.

Laura Mahon In hospital - Brain Tumour Research

I discharged myself from Warrington Hospital, even though I wasn’t really well enough, because I wanted to be with Sienna. Danny and I followed her to Oldham, where she was put in an incubator for a week. We weren’t allowed any visitors because of COVID restrictions. We really wanted our family to be with us, so it was very stressful for both of us.

We were driving back and forth between Oldham and The Walton Centre in Liverpool for appointments. It was so tiring, but all the staff we encountered at each hospital were so amazing and supportive. I cannot thank them enough for looking after our baby and us.

Laura Mahon with daughter - Brain Tumour Research

On 9 December, I had an MRI scan with contrast dye, and this revealed (or showed) that the tumour had nearly doubled in size. I was told that it was now inoperable because it was on my motor cortex, and it wouldn’t be safe to remove it. They could only do a biopsy, so the following day they did that, but they could only remove around 20%.

“I was devastated because I’d got my hopes up. It was yet another setback, bad news on top of bad news.”

I left hospital on 14 December and Danny and I moved into my mum and dad’s house. That was when everything caught up with me and I just broke down. Danny took time off from his job at United Utilities.

Laura Mahon - brain tumour - Brain Tumour Research

Sienna was still in Warrington Hospital. It was so hard because I was so tired and I was recovering from two major surgeries, and I could only walk with crutches. Danny would go to see her every morning, and then he would come home to pick me up so that I could visit her in the afternoon. It was great to see that Sienna was getting better and she was putting on weight.

On 22 December 2021, I received the results of my biopsy. Danny and I had prepared ourselves for the worst. We knew deep down what it was going to be but being told at 29 years old that you have inoperable stage 4 brain cancer – a glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumour – and that I had just two years to live is something you can never prepare yourself for. Hearing that said out loud was a moment we’ll never forget.

As you can imagine, Christmas was cancelled. We usually love that time of year, but we didn’t even put a tree up. Danny and I were just so shocked. We told both sets of parents, but I didn’t want other people to know as I didn’t want to be treated differently, and I didn’t want to upset people.

Laura Mahon - Brain Tumour Research

Because of my prognosis, there were certain things that I wanted to make sure I did before it was too late. Danny and I had got engaged in April 2021, so we decided to get married, and we planned a low-key ceremony with family and a few friends for 6 January 2022. But two days before, I had my first-ever seizure. Fortunately, after resting for a day, we were able to tie the knot as planned and we had a lovely day. 

Laura Mahon wedding day - Brain Tumour Research

The next day, we registered Sienna’s birth, and on 8 January she had her christening in a chapel at Warrington Hospital. That was so lovely because the staff had organised a party with food and presents, which was so nice of them.

I started my six-week course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment the following week which made me feel really tired. But the following week, on 17 January, Sienna came home weighing five pounds.

“It felt so surreal, like I was living two separate lives. Things all looked fine, like we were a happy family, then I remember how poorly I am. But it’s so special having Sienna with us, it’s like what we had originally envisaged.”

 Laura Mahon in hospital with daughter - Brain Tumour Research

Unfortunately, another negative thing happened soon after. My liver function crashed, which meant that I had to stop my chemotherapy. My liver recovered after a month, so I was able to continue the chemotherapy.

At the start of April, I had an MRI scan which showed that the tumour had stabilised. It had even shrunk a bit. That was such a massive relief, and it was so nice to hear something positive.

Laura Mahon family - Brain Tumour Research

In September 2022, I completed six months of chemotherapy. During my fourth cycle, I fainted every time I stood up, it was horrible. At first the doctors thought I was having seizures, but it was all due to low blood pressure. During my fifth cycle, I felt so nauseous and I was unable to eat anything for four days. But it was all worth it because my follow-up scan showed that the tumour was stable, and it had even shrunk a bit more so I felt really relieved.

Laura Mahon Christmas - Brain Tumour Research

The good news meant we could properly celebrate Christmas and enjoy the festivities with my family. Danny and I also celebrated Sienna’s first birthday on 30 November which was so lovely. Sienna’s lung repaired itself and she is completely fine, happy and healthy now. She is now in nursery and she’s loving it. It’s so nice to see her developing.

I had a scan in the first week of January 2023. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite get the new year start we wanted. The scan showed new activity in another part of my brain. I was told it was really small and it had been caught early. I went back on chemotherapy.

Laura Mahon with family - Brain Tumour Research

Over a two-week period towards the end of February, I started getting headaches, my symptoms became worse, and I had a seizure. I had an emergency MRI which showed my tumour had grown and there were more new areas of activity.

“I now only have a few treatment options left on the NHS. Danny and I are truly heartbroken but we always knew this would eventually be the outcome, we just thought we would have more time.”

Laura Mahon celebrate daughter birthday - Brain Tumour Research

I’ve just started on new chemotherapy and I’m trying alternative treatments alongside it to try to get it back under control. This is a huge setback but this fight, which has never been a fair fight, is definitely not over.

“We’re taking things one step at a time, but it’s sad to have to think about potentially going abroad for treatment that isn’t available on the NHS.”

Danny has taken time off work until my next scan which is due at the end of April. Our main goal now is to spend as much time together with Sienna and our family.

No one should have to go what we go through. We’ve made a JustGiving page page to help raise money for Brain Tumour Research. Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. The treatments also haven’t changed in decades. 

Laura Mahon Brain Tumour Research - GBM

We’ve been on loads of mini-holidays and we love going out and doing nice things to make memories together, but I need to take each day as it comes. It’s hard at times and I just break down and cry.

“I see others with GBMs who manage to live longer, so I am clinging to the idea that I might be one of those people. I’m fighting as hard as I can and I’m staying strong for my family.”

I want to help raise awareness and my family and friends are planning to do some fundraising events for Brain Tumour Research.

Laura Mahon family outing - Brain Tumour Research

It was amazing to see brain tumour research funding being debated in the main chamber of the House of Commons on 9 March. Since 2018, the government has promised £40 million in investment but only £15 million has actually reached the hands of researchers.

“It’s disappointing knowing all that money was there for research and it’s not been used.”

Laura Mahon Brain Tumour Research - Case Study

I don’t think people understand what I and others go through. The lack of Government funding for brain tumours is shocking. Everyone has a brain so more needs to be done.

Laura Mahon  
March 2023

Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer... yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

Brain Tumour Research is determined to change this.

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