Zoe Cripps is the winner of our Bumpfie Competition. Here she shares her amazing and inspiring journey to pregnancy and impending motherhood. We are sure you will agree she is a brave and truly courageous woman. Zoe and hubby Michael, we salute you.
Zoe’s Story “In 2008 I started noticing problems with my hearing in my left ear, I went to the doctors quite a few times and was told my ear needed de-waxing/I had an ear infection/cold etc. It wasn’t until I failed a hearing test during a job application process, and they advised that I returned to my GP that my doctor sent me for a hearing test too. The hearing in my left ear was about 60% so they prescribed me with a hearing aid, and sent me for a CT/MRI at the local hospital. It was not until I was referred to the Walton Neuro Centre in Liverpool that I found out I had a brain tumour nestled on my 5th and 7th Cranial nerve.
At this point the tumour was still quite small (about almond sized) and not at risk of spreading to other parts of my body, so the Walton Neuro Centre decided to monitor the tumour with 3 monthly scans. In June 2009 I also had a 10cm/500g cyst removed by emergency surgery as well as 90% of my left ovary. The cyst contained cancerous cells, and I subsequently had laser surgery to remove further abnormal cells. (I was only 21 years of age at this point). It was also in September 2009 that I first met Michael, my husband (although, typically, we didn’t get on)!
In October 2009, the decision was made that I needed treatment to shrink my brain tumour, which had grown to about ping pong ball size. The verdict initially was to blast the tumour with gamma knife surgery (a form of radiotherapy) however by January, as the tumour was still growing, and the Radiotherapy could cause the tumour to metastasise, the decision was made to operate instead.
The operation took place on the 19th September 2010 and was 12 hours long. I spent 3 days in a medically induced coma, and a total of 13 days in hospital where I had to learn to walk again. As a result if the operation I have permanent total loss of hearing in my left ear, and they also cut my balance nerve which means I will always struggle a little to balance properly! The Walton Centre removed about 95% of the tumour, however the remaining 5% is inoperable due to its location on my brain stem. There is a chance to treat it with radiotherapy in the future if it regrows, but this has about a 30% success rate, and will possibly require further treatment (chemotherapy) within 6 months as the tumour can become more aggressive as a result of radiotherapy. I will never be classed as in remission or cancer free.
It was also in September/October 2010 that I started chatting to Michael on a daily basis. He was just returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. In November/ December 2010, we went on holiday to France, and then to Portugal, and officially became a couple. I spent a total of 7 months off work recovering from the operation, and also, have permanent nerve damage in my face/brain, which causes debilitating Neuralgia attacks. I have a cocktail of drugs to take to prevent the attacks, but these cannot be taken during pregnancy.
Mike proposed in April 2013 after his second tour of Afghanistan and our wedding date was set for October 2013.
So far my tumour has not grown, and in September 2013 (8 weeks before our wedding) Michael and I decided we wanted to start trying for a family, although we both knew the chances could be slim because of the drugs I’ve been on for the past 3 years, and because of the fact that I only have 1 ovary!
We were extremely fortunate, and conceived the very same week (I’m resisting the urge to call him a miracle baby)! I’ve had a tough pregnancy with morning sickness up to 30 weeks, and a few neuralgia attacks that were so severe they caused black outs, forcing me to take maternity leave at 27 weeks.
I’ve also had to cope with my Dad passing away in his sleep, he never knew he was going to be a Grandad either. Now we have just 1 week to go until our little man is here. He will be born by C section due to the pressure that labour can cause on my brain stem, and the risk of haemorrhage or spinal fluid leak.”
What an incredible journey, Zoe and thank you for sharing. Keep us posted on your baby news and we wish you and Michael and your little bundle of joy much love and happiness when he arrives. x