Most Read

Mom Wrote Emotional Letters To Her Unborn Baby After Being Diagnosed With Brain Tumor In Case She Died
Amy and Craig with Darcy last Christmas (PA Real Life/Collect)

Mom who put her own life at risk to save her baby after being diagnosed with a brain tumor during pregnancy has shared moving diary extracts thanking her daughter for bringing “sunshine" into her darkest days.

Terrified she might not survive a 14 hour operation to remove the walnut-sized tumor, Amy Mitchell recorded her thoughts in an intimate diary, hoping her husband Craig and daughter Darcy would read them if she died.

“I prepared for the worst," Mitchell said.

Amy and Craig on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I wrote letters to Darcy and Craig in the build up, which I still find too upsetting to read," she said.

“And I kept a diary for Darcy throughout my pregnancy and beyond, so she could read how I was feeling and know she was loved. I left them in our bedroom somewhere I knew Craig would find them if I didn't make it home."

Amy and Craig after she graduated from university (PA Real Life/Collect)

Mitchell had surgery on May 2, and was initially thought to have removed 95 per cent of the non-malignant tumor. Now, she is awaiting radiotherapy to blast what is left.

She first felt sick during her honeymoon in Devon, after marrying Craig in March 2018. She recalls feeling “foggy-headed."

“I thought it was a head cold, but then I started getting this rushing noise in my ears which made it really hard to hear," she said.

Amy with Darcy (PA Real Life/Collect)

After returning home, her GP thought Mitchell had an ear infection and prescribed a spray, but the rushing noise continued.

In June 2018, she was referred to an ear specialist at Doncaster Royal Infirmary where they discussed her possibly requiring hearing aids.

But when hearing tests proved inconclusive, Mitchell was given an MRI scan the week before Christmas.

Referred after an administrative delay to Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital, during a momentous week in March 2019, she first discovered she was having a baby and was then told she had a 3cm tumor on her brain.

“Craig and I were on cloud nine, finding out we were pregnant. We'd been planning to have a family, so it was very exciting," she said.

“Then I was told doctors had found a 3cm tumor on my brain and we were in complete shock."

Amy and Craig before she got sick (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I went into practical mode – thinking, 'Right, what's the next step? How do we deal with this?'" she continued.

Told it was an acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor that grows slowly over many years on the nerve used for hearing and balance, two weeks later she discussed her options with a neurosurgeon.

Refusing to terminate her pregnancy, she was told the tumor was too large for radiotherapy and that it was too dangerous to perform surgery until the baby was born.

Amy and Craig (PA Real Life/Collect)

Instead, medics decided to monitor its growth with three monthly MRI scans and operate as soon as the day after the birth.

“This was awful, as I didn't want to miss the moment of coming home as a new family together," she said.

Fortunately, as the tumor was not growing, Mitchell's surgery was delayed so she could bond with her baby.

Amy and Darcy (PA Real Life/Collect)

"We didn't tell many people and when friends asked if I was excited about Darcy arriving, there was this cloud hanging over me," she said.

It also made a natural birth and epidural impossible because of the pressure on her brain, so she had a caesarean at Doncaster Royal Infirmary on October 28, 2019.

“Having a general anesthesia was tough, as I wouldn't be awake to see her being born or hear her first cry and it meant Craig was not allowed in the room," Mitchell said.

But all their worries melted away when Darcy was born weighing a healthy 7lb.

“I was out for about 45 minutes, so as soon as I came round I was able to hold her. Craig met her at the same time. She was beautiful."

Amy's scar (PA Real Life/Collect)

Sadly, Mitchell's symptoms returned.

“There was still the rushing sound in my ear and it was making me unsteady," she explained.

“Then, in January we were told the tumor had grown by 30 per cent, meaning it was now the size of a walnut, not a grape."

Baby Darcy (PA Real Life/Collect)

Originally booked in for surgery in March, the pandemic meant her operation was postponed until May 21 at the Royal Hallamshire.

It was the only operation Amy had ever had, besides her caesarean, and coronavirus restrictions meant she had to go through it alone.

“Saying goodbye to Craig and Darcy was really emotional," she said.

“I left my diary and some goodbye letters somewhere he would find them, in case I didn't come back."

Amy and Darcy (PA Real Life/Collect)

“In that moment, I realized how much I loved you already even though I hadn't met you yet, and also that I would always put you first even if it put me at risk," she wrote in one diary extract addressed to her then unborn baby.

Heartbreakingly, she also said Darcy “deserved a mom that wasn't broken."

“Please promise me that our beautiful baby girl will know just how much I love her. You have both been my sunshine on the darkest of days," she wrote to Craig.

Fortunately, surgery was a success and, while she stayed in the hospital, Mitchell stayed in touch with her family through video calls.

“I spoke to Craig and Darcy more or less straight after the operation, although I don't think I made much sense!" she said.

“The worst thing was having double vision, which I was not prepared for."

Amy, Craig and Darcy (PA Real Life/Collect)

“It was an effect of the surgery. It was quite scary," she continued.

“Thankfully, it went after about a week, but I still felt like I'd been hit by a bus for a good while after the operation. When I came home on May 29, I burst into tears seeing Craig and Darcy – who were really happy to have me back."

Amy and Craig on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Collect)

Left with permanent hearing loss in her left ear, although her head still feels sore and tight, Mitchell is enjoying being at home with her family.

“Darcy is a lovely, cheeky baby. She's got the biggest smile," she laughed.

“I'm just so grateful that I'm here to see my daughter grow up."

In August, after an MRI scan revealed surgeons had not removed quite as much of the tumor as initially thought, it was decided Mitchell should have radiotherapy and she is now waiting to be told when it will start.

“It's another hurdle we need to get over," she said.

“At least I can see light at the end of the tunnel. We probably won't have any more children after all I've been through, but Darcy and I have the most wonderful bond and she is definitely enough."

Amy and Craig returning from a holiday (PA Real Life/Collect)

Keen to raise awareness and money for Brain Tumor Research, who have launched a petition calling for increased national investment into research, Mitchell and her family took part in the charity's virtual Walk of Hope around Doncaster last week.

“A brain tumor diagnosis does not have to be all doom and gloom," she said.

“Craig, Darcy and I are making lots of memories and I'm grateful to have been given that chance."

Amy and Craig before she got symptoms (PA Real Life/Collect)

“It's also important for people to persist if they think something is wrong. You know your own body and if something is not right, tell someone," she added.

For more information visit Brain Tumour Research here.