‘Lifesaving’ ultrasound spotted mum’s cancer while she was pregnant

Danielle Marr with two-year-old daughter, Zara. Picture: Neil Hanna
Danielle Marr with two-year-old daughter, Zara. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A mum who survived bladder cancer while six months pregnant has told how the “little cherub” growing inside her proved to be a lifesaver.

Danielle Marr was diagnosed with the illness after the consultant noticed a small growth during a cardiac ultrasound on her baby daughter in the womb, which they thought needed further investigation.

This led to a cystoscopy and biopsy at the Western General Hospital which uncovered two small cancerous tumours inside the lining of her bladder wall.

The 27-year-old, from Winchburgh, West Lothian, was speaking to the Evening News after a groundbreaking cancer drug was given approval to be used by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) yesterday.

Danielle described the decision to allow the restricted use of pembrolizumab in Scotland as “amazing” and welcomed anything that would help treat people living with bladder cancer. The administration worker relived her ordeal which thankfully ended with the tumours being removed and the safe birth of her daughter Zara, who is now aged two.

She said: “It’s amazing that this drug has been granted approval.

“Anything that helps someone with their journey through treatment after being diagnosed with bladder cancer is to be welcomed. I never hear much about bladder cancer on the television and in the media and obviously I relate to it, so it’s great that something is being done.”

Danielle said the news she had cancer came after health professionals had told her – “don’t worry you’re too young for bladder cancer”.

However, she realised something was up after feeling a constant “niggle” and having recurring urinary tract infections which kept returning even after several courses of antibiotics.

Within a week of the biopsy Danielle was given the dreadful news by the Consultant Urologist Mr Param Mariappan that she had a high grade, fast growing cancer and was booked in for surgery as soon as it was safe to proceed.

She said: “I hadn’t been pregnant before so I didn’t know what it was supposed to feel like. It was like a little sharp pain I would sometimes get and I thought ‘oh maybe the baby is lying in a funny 
position’ or something like that. But it turned out the place I was getting the pain was at the exact spot where they eventually removed the tumour 

“Being pregnant I had to have several steroid injections before surgery to make sure Zara’s lungs were strong enough, should she decide to make an early appearance. I prayed she was going to be okay and the operation was a success.”

Danielle said there is a high chance her cancer will return but she receives regular check-ups every three months and has a yearly scan.

Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK’s head of external affairs in Scotland, said: “It’s fantastic news that pembrolizumab will be made available for some patients in Scotland.”