At a 32-week scan, Lisa and Anthony Smith found out that their unborn daughter had a tennis-ball-sized tumor pressing against her windpipe. Lisa explained how they took the devastating news with the Mirror Online.
She said, “The sonographer looked shocked and rushed out to get a consultant. I didn’t see the scan. I didn’t want to look. I was devastated.” Unfortunately, later tests revealed that the tumor was cancerous. Lisa said, “She was still inside me and hadn’t even been born yet, yet I was being told that my baby had cancer. It was terrifying. We were terrified. I couldn’t bear to think of her having cancer as an adult, let alone before she was born.”
Their daughter, Jenna, was born at 34-weeks via Caesarean section at New Castle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. Lisa said, “When I came to I couldn’t believe how big the lump on her throat was. But she was alive and lying in my arms.”
However, before doctors could cut Jenna’s umbilical cord, they had to perform a tracheotomy to help her breath. After performing the procedure, Jenna went to the intensive care unit and surgeons removed the lump two weeks later. They also explained to Lisa and Anthony that Jenna would have to start chemotherapy immediately.
“We just cried constantly. To be told our baby had cancer was heartbreaking, unbelievable,” said Lisa.
Every month the couple brought Jenna to chemotherapy sessions and every week they replaced her breathing tube. Lisa said, “Babies should playing on mats and gurgling. Instead she’s tired and exhausted from chemo. Luckily when she grows up, she will be too young to remember everything that she has been through.” Miraculously, now Jenna is in remission but will continue treatment through the rest of February.
In March, surgeons hope to work towards removing Jenna’s breathing tube. As a result of the tumor, Jenna cannot cry or make noise because she suffered throat damage in the womb. Anthony told the Sunday People, “Through all this we’ve never heard her cry. People complain about their babies keeping them up at night. But I’d give anything to hear Jenna cry. That would make me cry myself.”
Lisa and Anthony concluded, “We never thought it was possible for a baby to get cancer while still in the womb. She’s a real miracle. She hasn’t had her first birthday and she’s already fought for her life. We are so incredibly proud. Jenna’s the strongest one of all of us. She’s been the one carrying us.”