Mum has ‘miracle baby’ after battling cancer throughout pregnancy

Mum has ‘miracle baby’ after battling cancer throughout pregnancy

Discovering she was pregnant was one of the happiest moments of Dani’s life – but her joy turned to despair just seven days later.
That’s when a small lump in her breast was diagnosed as a breast cancer tumour.
The 36-year-old had already suffered a miscarriage as she and husband Mark tried for their first baby and Dani instantly feared her second pregnancy would end tragically too.
But thanks to the expertise of Mater cancer specialists and obstetricians – and her own courage – Dani is today the proud mum of beautiful 10-month-old girl Parker.
“I was just five weeks pregnant when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2022,” said Dani, from Alexandra Hills.
“I was in total shock. There was no history of breast cancer in my family.
“I was scared for my unborn bub and scared for myself.”
Dani had HER2-positive breast cancer, which is a breast cancer that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). This protein promotes the growth of cancer cells.
Mater Cancer Care Centre Senior Medical Oncologist Dr Catherine Shannon said Dani’s breast cancer was “slightly harder” to treat as she presented very early in her pregnancy.
“She was only seven weeks pregnant when I first met her,” Dr Shannon said.
“You can’t safely give chemotherapy in pregnancy until the second trimester, so she had the surgery first as this is a safer approach early in pregnancy. 
“Dani then had chemotherapy through her second and third trimesters, when it can be delivered safely.” 
Dr Shannon said HER-2 targeted treatments are not used during pregnancy due to oligohydramnios (not enough amniotic fluid around the baby).
“We had to wait until after Parker was born to start the HER-2 directed treatment which she has just recently finished,” Dr Shannon said. 
“The drugs used are the same as those we would use in women who aren’t pregnant at the time.”
Holding her precious baby in her arms, Dani revealed she was scared about having chemotherapy treatment while pregnant with Parker, who was born four weeks early at Mater Mothers’ Hospital.
“I think I stressed the entire pregnancy that something would go wrong,” Dani said.
She said the team at Mater were “amazing” and she felt cared for and supported throughout her cancer journey.
Mater Cancer Care Clinical Nurse Consultant Esther White said Dani had been incredibly engaged with her treating team.
“This collaboration across specialist teams ensured we were able to offer holistic antenatal care that empowered Dani throughout her pregnancy and cancer treatment,” Ms White said. 
“There continues to be ongoing advances in cancer research that offer hope and  reassurance – and Mater ensures our patients have access to world-class treatments including those within the clinical trial space. 
“Despite a heartbreaking diagnosis of breast cancer during early pregnancy, Dani and her husband Mark were able to access evidence-based specialist care that not only offered hope but supported them in their dreams of having a family with the safe arrival of their beautiful little girl, Parker.” 
On Sunday 10 March, the Donne family took part in their first International Women’s Day Fun Run presented by Queensland X-Ray, with Dani’s local mothers’ group also joining the fight against breast cancer.
“I have had such an amazing support system with both my husband and my family and friends, and being able to share my journey with other mums has also really helped,” she said.
Funds from the event will go towards life-saving breast cancer research, as well as services and support for breast cancer patients at Mater hospitals in Brisbane, Springfield, Redland, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Bundaberg. 


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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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