‘I was diagnosed with cancer at seven months pregnant'

DARWIN mum Fanny McKenzie was seven months into her first pregnancy when she realised something wasn't quite right.

Her right knee began to swell and became more and more painful the larger her belly grew.

"I was struggling to carry myself around with the pain, to the point where I almost couldn't climb the stairs in our house," she said.

Her husband Alex ended up on taking her to see five different GPs who all told the couple that it was probably a cyst and to wait until after the baby was born.

 

After five months of chemotherapy, new mum Fanny McKenzie is looking forward to spending her first Mother’s Day with her baby Léna at home in Darwin. Picture: Keri Megelus
After five months of chemotherapy, new mum Fanny McKenzie is looking forward to spending her first Mother’s Day with her baby Léna at home in Darwin. Picture: Keri Megelus

Determined to investigate further, she had a MRI scan without contrast.

The results changed her life forever.

"I was told that I had a stage two synovial sarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer sitting behind my right knee," Mrs McKenzie said.

"It was almost 6cm long. I had to ask the doctor to repeat it a few times, I just couldn't believe it."

Mrs McKenzie with baby Léna and husband Alex McDonald. Picture: Supplied
Mrs McKenzie with baby Léna and husband Alex McDonald. Picture: Supplied

The expecting mum was advise she had to start aggressive chemotherapy straight away in Adelaide.

But after the first cycle of treatment, her placenta was damaged and doctors had to induce the child's birth.

"I wasn't due for another six weeks and was terrified that maybe the chemo did hurt her," she said.

She started having contractions, and then without warning, the baby's heart rate dropped and the doctors decided to undergo an emergency C-section. Mrs McKenzie was given a spinal epidural and was conscious the whole time.

"They lifted the baby out and she was wasn't breathing," she said. "It was like time stopped. It took eight minutes of oxygen for her to breathe on her own.

 

Mrs McKenzie and Australian-born husband Alex met in 2013 while she was backpacking across Australia. Picture: Keri Megelus
Mrs McKenzie and Australian-born husband Alex met in 2013 while she was backpacking across Australia. Picture: Keri Megelus

"I just cried. I was so overwhelmed. I remember thinking: she's been through so much already, and this is just the first day of her life."

Despite being born underweight at only 1.8kg her baby, Léna Coco McKenzie, was safe and untouched by the chemo.

After five months of treatment, Mrs McKenzie is back home in Darwin and looking forward to spending her first Mother's Day with her new family.