Woman with rare cancer type left looking nine months pregnant

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
Brown pictured with husband Tim, left, and after her first surgery in October 2017. [Photo: Caters]

A woman in her thirties whose cancer makes her look like she’s pregnant has told of her battle to beat the disease with an organ removal surgery.

Jemily Brown, 35, a mum-of-one from Sandhurst, Surrey, was diagnosed with pseudomyxoma peritonei in September 2017.

The rare type of cancer is also known as “jelly cancer” due to jelly-like liquid called mucin it creates, which spreads throughout the peritoneum, a layer of tissue that lines the inside of your abdomen.

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The cancer usually starts in the appendix but can also originate from the bowel, the bladder or the ovaries.

It manifests itself in a gradual increase in waist size and unexplained weight gain.

Brown pictured before, left, and after her first surgery in October 2017. [Photo: Caters]

Brown, who is married to husband Tim and mother to Mayana, 10, has an abdomen swelling so large it resembles a “baby bump”, as a side effect of her condition – meaning she looks nine months pregnant.

In October 2017, she had to endure a 12-hour operation that medics refer to as "the mother of all surgeries".

During the surgery, she had 10 organs removed as well as six litres of the cancerous jelly tumour in her abdomen.

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But in September 2018 the cancer came back again, and despite completing a course of chemotherapy Brown was told in January 2019 that she would require more organs to be removed – stomach, small intestine, part of the large bowel and pancreas – and replaced with transplants.

Brown pictured with husband Tim and daughter Mayana. [Photo: Caters]

“One of the hardest things for me is how rare this condition is. It’s uncertain territory a lot of the time,” says Brown.

“The initial surgery took a lot away from me but was worth doing for the 14 months I had afterwards but it now causes me daily problems. I have to take dozens of pills a day and can’t eat solid food anymore.”

She adds: ‘It’s not something you ever want to go through but at the same time it’s brought [my family] closer, we definitely appreciate our time together.”

Brown often gets mistaken for being pregnant. [Photo: Caters]

The condition is also the cause of many misunderstandings, she says, recalling a time when a cashier mistook her tumour for a pregnancy.

“I was in a queue at the bank and the cashier looked at me and asked ‘when’s the baby due? I said I wasn’t actually pregnant and she got very flustered.”

Jemily’s family and friends are currently raising money to help cover the cost of her treatment. Those wishing to donate can do so on her Go Fund Me page.