Mum welcomes baby girl in miracle birth - months after receiving devastating diagnosis

By Joseph Richards & Paige Oldfield

A mum who believes she is the first person in the UK to have a baby with stage 4 cancer has welcomed her ‘miracle’ daughter.

Joanna Jonathan, from Haslingden, was diagnosed with a rare type of lung cancer in 2019.

The now 36-year-old was given the earth-shattering news just six months after giving birth to her first-born Freya.

And despite still being treated for ALK-positive lung cancer, a genetic condition mainly affecting young and middle-aged women, she recently welcomed her second daughter Dylann.

The self-described ‘lung cancer warrior’ has set up an Instagram account, @justamammafightingcancer , to chart her journey and shed light on the little understood condition.

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Joanna told InYourArea that she believes she is the only person in the country with Stage 4 cancer to give birth.

The mum-of-two said: “Obviously it was quite a shock because we were told that when I was first diagnosed that more children wouldn’t be an option. But luckily my oncologist was amazing and through some research we found that quite a few women around the world had gone on to have babies.

“I’m the first person in the UK with stage 4 cancer to have a baby. I had quite an easy pregnancy really and the baby is absolutely fine and she was born in June.”

As well as becoming a mum to two little ones, Joanna married her long-time partner Daniel in a Covid-secure ceremony in November last year.

Joanna with husband Daniel at the brith of daughter Dylann in June (Joanna Jonathan)

This was after their initial date in April got cancelled because of the pandemic.

She said that in just under two weeks' time the pair are planning a big wedding day to make up for the missed date - complete with wedding dress and bridesmaids.

During the pandemic, Daniel was made redundant and has since become a full-time carer for Joanna.

“We're over the moon but obviously it's been a worrying time - being pregnant and having cancer,” she said.

Joanna and Daniel with their two daughter Freya (left) and Dylann, who was born while Joanna was diagnosed with stage 4 ALK-Positive lung cancer (Joanna Jonathan)

“It’s been stressful and especially as we know I’m incurable, so there’s a lot of questions raised as to whether we’re doing the right thing - would you bring another baby into the world knowing your life is limited? We’ve always said that we’re just going to live our lives as best we can.”

Joanna now hopes her story can inspire others who have received a cancer diagnosis and educate people about rarer forms of cancer.

She said: “Mine’s a really unique situation but there’s a lot of these rarer cancers that people don’t know about and they’re becoming more and more prevalent in the UK. Nobody expects a 34-year-old new mum to have cancer so it’s about breaking down those barriers of what a cancer patient looks like.

“Anybody that’s diagnosed, especially at stage 4 when they’re told it’s incurable, all that terminology that can make you feel that your life is over - it’s really not. There’s always hope and miracles can happen.”

Joanna is undergoing treatment at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester after she developed complications in the last few weeks.

“I feel really well, which is the main thing," she said.

"Apart from having a new baby and a toddler and cancer I feel like I’m doing really well! It’s just one of those unfortunate things that it’s reared its head now.

“My children, it’s unfortunate but they probably are going to be the kids at a school whose mum has died but they're going to be armed with the knowledge of how to advocate and hopefully educate their friends so eventually we live in a world where cancer isn’t misdiagnosed in young people.”

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