A new mum, who started suffering excruciating migraines after giving birth to her son, turned out to have a fast-growing brain tumour.
Abi Naylor, 28, a workplace mentor, from Congleton, Cheshire, was rushed to Macclesfield Hospital, Cheshire, a week after the arrival of her son Roman in October 2022.
Following a CT scan, doctors broke the news to Abi and her husband, Ross, 28, that she had a large 7cm brain tumour, and would need emergency surgery.
The couple were told the tumour’s growth had "accelerated" due to her pregnancy hormones and was close to causing permanent nerve damage.
Doctors said if it was left any longer it could have become inoperable and caused "life-changing" issues with her fine motor skill and facial muscles.
Thankfully, surgeons were able to remove the whole tumour, and, as it was found to be benign, Abi doesn’t need any further treatment.
"We have no idea how long the tumour was there and growing for," Abi explains.
"Doctors think the hormones and stress of labour ended up excelling the growth of the tumour.
“If it weren’t for being pregnant, it may have grown for longer and caused more damage.
“My little boy literally saved my life.”
When the couple's wedding was postponed in June 2020 due to the pandemic, they decided to try for a baby and were overjoyed to discover, in 2021, that Abi was pregnant.
However, the 12-week scan revealed the baby's brain had not developed properly, with Abi having to deliver their stillborn baby when she was 14 weeks pregnant.
“We were heartbroken and needed some time to heal before trying again," she explains.
“But we tried to enter the new year with a positive mindset.”
The couple were overjoyed to discover Abi had fallen pregnant again in February 2022.
They finally got married in July 2022, and planned a gender reveal on the big day, using blue balloons to tell loved ones they were expecting a boy.
“It was a very anxious time, but Abi was closely monitored throughout the pregnancy," Ross, a civil servant explains.
“The wedding and gender reveal was perfect – we hoped we’d left the difficult year behind us.”
Abi's pregnancy had been going smoothly until she suddenly collapsed at 37 weeks along and was rushed to hospital, where doctors struggled to find a cause.
“Doctors are very reluctant to scan heavily pregnant women," Abi adds.
“It was left unexplained, but we thought it was just one of those freak things because I felt fine afterwards.”
Weeks later, when Abi was 39 weeks pregnant, she went into labour at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, Great Manchester.
The couple welcomed their little boy Roman on October 11, 2022, weighing a healthy 7lb 10oz.
Everything seemed fine, until week later when Abi’s health took a turn while at home.
“I started feeling really dehydrated and was getting painful migraines," she explains.
"After a few days, I could barely see or walk so Ross took me into A&E at Macclesfield Hospital.
"At first, doctors thought it was some reaction to the epidural I had during labour, but we pushed for more tests."
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A CT scan uncovered a 7cm tumour and two days later, she was transferred Salford Royal Hospital for emergency brain surgery.
"Doctors couldn't believe she had such an aggressive, fast-growing tumour for her age," Ross explains.
"They didn't know if it was cancerous, or what they would find when they operated.
"It was a very scary time, especially just after the arrival of Roman."
After a four-hour long operation and an MRI scan, doctors managed to remove all traces of the mass.
Despite not needing further treatment, the mum-of-one will continue going for check-up scans.
But in the meantime she is now trying to enjoy new parenthood while recovering from surgery and is keen to encourage others to get checked out if something doesn't feel right.
"Definitely go to a doctor and get it checked out," she advises.
"Looking back, I have had headaches on and off over the years but thought nothing of it," she recalls.
“I always put them down to things like not drinking enough water, or my period."
Ross adds: "I dread to think what would have happened if Roman hadn't come along.
"He's a little hero.
“Abi’s still on the road to recovery, but she’s doing amazingly well."
Additional reporting SWNS.