A Kansas mother was 12 weeks into her second pregnancy when she learned that what she thought was a growing embryo was actually a tumor in her uterus.
Sarah Lundry of Topeka, Kansas, became pregnant in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing her and her husband to wait for a doctor’s appointment for three months.
During that time, she experienced some of the characteristic symptoms of early pregnancy, until she suddenly began losing weight.
After finally being able to visit her doctor and an abnormal ultrasound, it was discovered that she was experiencing a molar pregnancy, a very rare complication that occurs when sperm fertilizes a defective egg and instead of a baby forming, abnormal tissue builds up in the uterus that becomes a tumor.
Mrs. Lundry’s pregnancy was one of less than one percent of pregnancies that become molar pregnancies.
Sarah Lundry appears with her husband Garrett and their son Brooks, now four years old. The Kansas couple was excited at the prospect of having baby number two when they received the horrible news about their pregnancy.
Mrs Lundry’s tumor was surgically removed within days of its detection, but it eventually returned several times and became cancer that spread to her lungs and uterus.
It was not uncommon for Americans to delay medical care at the beginning of the pandemic because they were worried about exposure to Covid or because their healthcare providers were cutting services such as preventive screenings to free up resources for other patients.
Mrs. Lundry, who was barely 30 when her life took a turn, and her husband were excited to add one more to their family, giving their then-infant son Brooks a sibling.
She told Kentucky’s NBC affiliate. KSNT She initially experienced all the symptoms of early pregnancy, which can include nausea and fatigue, but soon she could no longer keep food down. She even lost weight.
When she and her husband were finally able to go to the doctor, they couldn’t find a heartbeat, which should be detectable at 12 weeks pregnant.
Mrs Lundry said: “They tried every source to be able to find the heartbeat and they couldn’t find it.” And I knew in that moment I thought, “this is not normal.” At 12 weeks, you should be able to hear your heartbeat quite immediately.’
It wasn’t until doctors performed an ultrasound that they discovered she had a molar pregnancy. Where she should have been forming an embryo, doctors found a tumor.
Within just three days, she was going to undergo surgery to remove the tumor from her uterus.
Although the tumor was removed, his health problems did not end there.
In May 2021, she was diagnosed with gestational trophoblastic neoplasia, a collective term for a group of rare tumors that begin when cells that would normally become placenta grow abnormally.
During a normal conception, sperm fertilizes an egg that contains the mother’s genes. But in the case of a complete molar pregnancy, the egg is empty, so the only genetic material comes from the father. This forms a mass of abnormal placental cells, but not a baby.
However, a pregnancy test will still test positive because it detects the body’s release of a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). In the case of a molar pregnancy, these hormones do not come from the fetus but from defective cells in the placenta.
Mrs Lundry had to undergo several rounds of chemotherapy. She also underwent a partial hysterectomy to remove her uterus in June 2022.
The Lundrys still want to expand their family and have started raising funds with the help of their neighbors to adopt.
Even after Mrs. Lundry’s tumor mass was removed, others formed again and again, until it became a cancer that spread to her lungs and uterus.
She said in May, reflecting on when she was first told two years ago that she had cancer: “No one prepares you for that moment.” Nobody tells you how you have to face your mortality for a short sentence. No one explains to you how hard it is to explain your situation to other people, or even how to express it in words.
‘No one tells you because cancer doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all mentality. Seeks to kill. It seeks to destroy… Today I am very grateful to be on the other side of cancer. “I am so grateful that my story includes more life on Earth.”
After several rounds of chemotherapy, she finally had to undergo a partial hysterectomy to remove her uterus. Now, Mrs. Lundry has been cancer-free for a year, but she cannot have children.
She said: ‘I never expected to go through any of this. Obviously! It’s not like someone wakes up one day and thinks, “Today… I’m going to beat cancer. “I’m going to go through all these things.”
Mrs. Lundry and her husband Garrett of six years have not given up on their dream of expanding their family. Now they are raising money to be able to adopt with the help of a local business, Milk & Honey Coffee Co.
The cafe maintains a checking account for the Lundrys’ adoption fund and people can donate by mentioning ‘The Lundrys’ when they visit.
WHAT IS A MOLAR PREGNANCY?
A molar pregnancy occurs when a lump of abnormal cells grows in the uterus in place of a healthy fetus.
A ‘complete mole’ is when there is no fetus, while a ‘partial’ occurs when a fetus begins to form but cannot develop into a baby.
Around one in 590 pregnancies in the UK and one in 1,000 in the US involve molars.
Many women have no symptoms and do not know they are having molar pregnancies until they have routine ultrasounds.
Some may experience:
- Vaginal bleeding or dark discharge.
- Severe morning sickness
- An unusually swollen abdomen
Treatment often involves removing the abnormal cells using suction.
Medication may also be necessary.
Treatment may also be required to remove any leftover abnormal cells, which can become cancerous.
Molar pregnancies do not affect a woman’s chances of conceiving in the future.
Source: NHS Options