A YOUNG mum, who spent less than a month with her baby before undergoing an 11-hour operation to remove a tumour, underwent her final round of chemotherapy last week.
Mollie Dougherty, 24, had her ear temporarily removed and a tumour cut away from her jaw just weeks after giving birth.
The Worsbrough mum found out she was pregnant in December 2022 – leaving herself and her partner Tom, 33, full of joy.
After flying out to Antalya in Turkey three months later, Mollie began to feel a pain in her jaw.
The pain died down before returning three months later in June – she then decided to visit the dentist but she said she was told it was just an issue with her wisdom tooth.
On the day of Mollie’s baby shower, July 1, Mollie was rushed to A and E where she was given an X-ray and sent home with antibiotics.
Unfortunately, the pain remained and she was referred to the maxillofacial unit – a comprehensive service which relates to conditions of the face, mouth, jaws and neck – where she subsequently underwent an array of tests.
A month later, Mollie was told the devastating news.
She said: “I found out on August 4 that it was osteosarcoma. I first found the problem in March but was told it was about my wisdom tooth. It then settled before getting worse in July.
“I went to A and E twice and was told it was an abscess before they finally did a biopsy.”
Osteosarcoma is a type of cancer that begins in the cells that form bones. It tends to happen most often in teenagers and young adults – but it also can happen in younger children and older adults.
It’s is a rare disorder, but it is the most common cause of bone cancer in children and adolescents.
Doctors told Mollie that she would have to give birth sooner rather than later as any further operations or treatment would be too dangerous for the baby.
She was scheduled for a C-section but gave birth naturally to her little boy, Tommy, on August 7 at Barnsley Hospital.
Mollie spent less than 12 hours with Tommy, who weighed in at seven pounds ten ounces, before being taken for further cancer scans.
Following a consultation with her surgeon in Sheffield an operation date was set for September 5 to remove the tumour – meaning she was able to spend less than a month with her newborn.
Mollie was given a tracheotomy – a procedure to help air and oxygen reach the lungs by creating an opening in the windpipe from outside the neck – which had to stay in for two weeks, meaning she couldn’t talk for the entire time.
Then, in an almost 12-hour operation, she had part of her jaw removed with surgeons temporarily removing her ear, so they could access the bone to remove the tumour.
“I had to give birth two days after finding out the news so the baby could get here safe and the doctors could start my treatment plan,” she added.
“I had the operation on September 5 and it was 11 hours long.
“I was in hospital for around 18 days and I had my jaw bone removed and replaced with my leg bone.
“It was so hard finding out I had cancer when I was pregnant, I was just worried and wanted to get my baby here safe.
“Leaving Tommy so young was so upsetting but I knew I had no choice.”
The operation was deemed a success, much to the delight of Mollie and her family, with most of the tumour removed from her jaw.
On September 15, she was finally reunited with Tommy in hospital and was then fully discharged on September 21.
She has since undergone chemotherapy to remove the remaining part of the tumour – and last Thursday was her last scheduled appointment before radiotherapy.
“I couldn’t be more grateful for my family because of the support I’ve received,” she added.
“Everyone has said they can’t believe how happy I have been throughout it.
“It’s been tough, but I’ve just had to get on with it, I can’t do anything about it, so I’ve just got to keep going.
“Tommy is doing great, it has been very hard on Tom, but he’s been occupied with the baby which has been a good distraction.”