A 17-year-old girl, who is battling for her life due to a rare form of brain cancer, has defied all odds by delivering a healthy baby. Dana Scatton from Pennsylvania was diagnosed with DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma), a very rare and deadly form of brain cancer when she was nearly eight months pregnant.
While there is no cure for the deadly disease, Dana was given only months to survive if she doesn't go for immediate treatment through radiation to stop an inoperable tumour's progress. As her due date was in February, she decided to postpone the treatment a little further in order to keep her unborn baby safe.
However, soon her condition deteriorated and the cancer symptoms progressed and it was decided that the radiation therapy would be started immediately with the baby still in her womb. "I feel like God just directed the doctors to help decide what I should do. I wasn't sure if I wanted to start radiation without having the baby because I didn't want it to hurt her. But I couldn't decide what to do – it was too hard," the brave mum told The Adviser.
But defeating all the odds, Dana delivered her baby daughter on 4 January via a C-section after undergoing multiple sessions of radiation. Weighing 4 lb. and 6 oz. Aries Marie was "perfect" and soon after her birth, she became famous as a miracle baby in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
The new mother is currently receiving radiation for five days a week and hoping to live for a few more months to spend some precious moments with her daughter. Her optimism and fearless attitude towards cancer have inspired thousands on social media.
Her family has set up a GoFundMe page and aims to raise $200,000 (£148,000) for Dana's treatment and the future of baby Aries. In a month, they have been able to collect $37,767(around £28,000).
What is Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma?
According to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, DIPG is a "highly aggressive and difficult to treat brain tumour found at the base of the brain. These kinds of tumours are found in the brainstem and as they progress, they start attacking the body's vital motor and sensory functions including, hand and leg movement, speech, breathing, blood pressure and heartbeat.
Since no specific medicines have been developed to counter its growth, doctors try radiation to prevent it from growing aggressively and giving patients few more months to live.
Symptoms of the rare brain cancer: feeling extremely tired, unable to move hands and legs, unable to swallow food and water and breathing problems are the vital symptoms of the disease.
Dana, who was pregnant with her first child, initially ignored the symptoms as a part of the morning sickness. "I was really overtired. But things kept getting worse. I was forgetting to swallow, and my speech got weird. Then my legs started not responding to things – when I would walk, my legs would drag. That's when I really got concerned," she explains.
The terminally ill mum is still undergoing radiation. And according to her Facebook page, "her symptoms are stable with no progress or regression since Sunday, but that's expected as she continues with radiation."
"Dana hasn't had any fear lately and she contributes that to God. There is so much unknown when battling DIPG but she says God is constantly showing her his purpose for her and that gives her calmness. She's had some anxiety at times but then prays and it goes away," the update by her brother reads.