Weʼre raising £500 to help support the work of Charing Cross Hospital, who treat and support women suffering from tumours during pregnancy.
- Belfast, UK
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Every year in the UK, over 750,000 pregnancies are carried to term. For an enormous majority of women, pregnancy is a very special experience. The excitement of finding out; the planning; the buying baby toys and painting bedrooms; the discussing names and looking for homes.
It can be an exhilarating time in someone's life: the start of their future. All the expectations and hopes, the aspirations and potential. The surge of hormones, all the thoughts about the future. Breaking the news to the family. And then the first scan. But for some, the joy is too short-lived.
Imagine it: you arrive at the hospital for your scan. You take your seat on the bed, you lie back and lift up your top. You're smiling. The sonographer squeezes some cool jelly on your tummy and goes to work looking for little feet.
A few minutes pass, she's fiddling with the machine, tapping it as though it is malfunctioning. She politely apologizes, smiles, calibrates the machine, and then applies some more jelly.
A few more minutes pass. During this time, you witness her expression progress from curious, to brooding, to gravely concerned. You look up, wondering what's wrong.
She rushes off out of the room, but says nothing at first. You wait. Your hairs begin to stand on end. Your partner's hand grips yours.
The doctor comes back a few minutes later with company. Another person in a white coat. They're discussing everything in hush, then they come slowly over. One doctor takes off her gloves as the other waits behind. She puts one hand in the other. She bows her head. Then she quietly breaks the news.
"You have gestational trophoblastic disease", she says.
You don't understand it, but you know that it's bad.
The next half hour is an explanation of the condition, the treatments, the probability of success. But the only thing you pick up from the conversation is that your pregnancy is going to come to an end.
No planning; no buying baby toys; no painting bedrooms or discussing names.
A matter of months ago, this story was mine. Sitting in a hospital, I felt completely crushed, with no idea what was happening or why. My journey has taken me to the edge of my patience. I've felt grief; anxiety; hopelessness and depression.
Eight months on, and after a lot of effort and pain, I feel that I can say that I have made my peace with what happened to me. It wasn't easy, but it was made possible by the incredible support I received from the hospital which treated me.
But what happened to me is not an isolated incident. Although it is rare, every year there are many women who suffer the same heartache.
Gestational trophoblastic disease, or "molar pregnancy", is a potentially life-threatening condition that develops shortly after conception, but which is not always immediately detectable. A woman can go weeks, or even months, without knowing that anything is wrong. She can see her tummy swell; she can feel her hormones kicking in; she can be entirely convinced that she is carrying a child and can make all the plans that go along with that, only to find out that what is growing inside her is not a child, but a tumour.
Along with such a crippling emotional loss, a woman suffering GTD will have to undergo extensive treatments which can include major surgery to remove the growth in her womb. Even after treatment, she can be expected to spend at least six months taking urine or blood tests to ensure the problem has not progressed into full-blown cancer.
As you can imagine, this is a hugely stressful and upsetting experience, and were it not for the incredible work of Charing Cross Hospital in London, it would have been made nearly impossible.
Having been diagnosed with GTD, and having seen and experienced the incredible work that this hospital carries out in saving the lives of women like me, I am now raising funds to donate to the hospital as my way of saying thank you.
I would be incredibly grateful if you could help me in my goal, so that women like me can continue to benefit from the incredible work the hospital do.
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Carly Peters started crowdfunding