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Unborn Baby’s Surprising Role: Saving Mother’s Life From Brain Tumor

Woman diagnosed during pregnancy credits hormones for tumor detection, undergoes surgery and treatment.
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A woman who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 34 weeks pregnant says her unborn baby saved her life.

Sharna Levett, 31, was heavily pregnant when she suffered a ten-minute seizure out of the blue, her left arm became heavy and her body began to jolt.

The former nursery manager feared she was having a stroke but was later told she had a brain tumor and gave birth to Ewan just weeks later.

Her diagnosis came just a year after losing her dad to the same disease.

Sharna from Torbay, Devon, said: “I was taken into a room with my midwife and consultant and thought to myself, well, this isn’t going to be good news.

“They told me I had a brain tumor and that the baby saved my life.

“I think they were referring to the hormones my body was producing as part of the pregnancy, which could have spurred on the growth of the tumor causing the seizure which alerted them I had a tumor.”

A woman who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 34 weeks pregnant says her unborn baby saved her life. SHARNA LEVETT/SWNS

Sharna gave birth to her son, Ewan, by c-section five weeks after her diagnosis – at 39 weeks – and despite medication, her seizures continued.

Sharna added: “I remained fully aware during my seizures, I knew I was having them but couldn’t stop them.

“This meant that during the first months of Ewan’s life I couldn’t hold him as much and had to play with him on the floor.

“If I was moving around the house I carried him in a sling.”

When Ewan was six months old, Sharna had an awake craniotomy where surgeons removed 40% of the tumor, which was diagnosed as a diffuse astrocytoma.

For two weeks after the surgery, she has temporary paralysis in her left leg, foot, arm and hand.

She has radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which finished in March 2023.

The treatment caused Sharna to have an early menopause and she has trouble with her balance and coordination.

Following a stable scan in August, a month later, Sharna married her husband, Huw, with two-year-old Ewan proudly part of the ceremony.

A woman who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 34 weeks pregnant says her unborn baby saved her life. SHARNA LEVETT/SWNS

She is now on a watch and wait, monitored with regular scans.

Just seven months after her operation and treatment, Sharna is raising money for the charity Brain Tumour Research by taking part in its month-long Skip 10 Minutes a Day in November.

She said: “It’ll be tough, and I might need to complete the ten minutes over the course of the day but I am determined to do it.

“Since my diagnosis I have learned that just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumors since records began in 2002. We have to change this.”

Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Sharna for sharing her experience with us and wish her well with her skipping challenge.

“Sadly, her story is not unusual.

“One in three people know someone affected by a brain tumor.

“They kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.

“We’re determined to change this and it is with the support of people such as Sharna that will help us towards finding a cure for all types of brain tumors.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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