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Shannon: “I fell pregnant and nearly turned my back on ovarian cancer treatment - I was terrified my baby would die”

19 April 2024

Shannon Main

Shannon had to undergo gruelling treatment for ovarian cancer while pregnant with her son, Hunter.

She was diagnosed with a rare form of the disease, and almost refused surgery because she was terrified her son would pass away in the operating theatre. 

Thankfully, he survived, and his Mum has now found incredible strength and hope for the future.

Here, she tells her story. Please note this story contains some mentions of suicidal thoughts.

My journey began in October 2020, where I was misdiagnosed with a UTI.

After 3-4 weeks of the doctor ignoring my symptoms, I felt as if no one was listening and started to question if something else was going on.

Then my symptoms worsened, rapidly.

I had a 13cm mass protruding the left side of my stomach, which was there when they diagnosed me with a UTI. I persisted and visited the GP again and within 5 minutes they had sent me to the hospital for a transvaginal and ultrasound scan.

Alone in the hospital, they confirmed a 13 by 11 cm mass on my left ovary. I was told this needed to be removed along with my fallopian tube.

The first thing I questioned was if I would still be able to have a baby one day.

I was distraught.

“I remember hearing the doctor saying it could be cancer. My whole world collapsed around me, and I felt like I was in a nightmare, just wanting to wake up.”

Shannon 22

Only two months after my diagnosis, I had open surgery down my stomach to remove my left ovary and left fallopian tube.

After surgery they confirmed it was stage 1A mixed germ cell ovarian tumour and confined to only one ovary.

I was told I had stage 1a ovarian cancer and wouldn’t need any further treatment – only bloods and scans for monitoring.

I carried on with my life as best as I could.

In 2021, I met my now ex-partner and got engaged. I fell pregnant but sadly miscarried on my birthday, October 27.

We unexpectedly fell pregnant again but little to my knowledge, my cancer had spread to my right lung. I was so shocked to find this out. It had been two years since my initial diagnosis of stage 1a ovarian cancer.

I had to keep going with the pregnancy, refusing any scans with radiation to protect my baby but was concerned about the outcome.

Would my baby survive? Would I survive?

Nevertheless, I tried to remain optimistic about what lay ahead. I put my baby first always and I just had faith everything would work out.

I went on to have a lung biopsy awake at 16 weeks pregnant - where they found it was the yolk sac component of my germ cell cancer that had spread and I had progressed from stage 1 ovarian cancer to stage 4.

I had to have a third of my right lung was removed while I was still carrying my son.

I nearly turned my back on surgery as I didn’t want my baby to pass away, but it was my anaesthetist who gave me the confidence that he would do everything to save us both.

Luckily, my baby Hunter and I both survived the surgery.

Shannon 7

Shortly after the surgery, I found out I had a 5cm mass next to my right kidney, a 4cm lymph node tumour, two tumours in my spine and two tumours in my pelvic bone.

The pain was excruciating. The cancer was everywhere, and I didn’t think I was going to make it. I decided I was going to deliver my baby and then take my life.

Doctors told me that if I didn’t start intensive chemotherapy straight away, I only had days – weeks left to live and wouldn’t be alive to see my son grow up.

It was terrifying, but their words were enough to encourage me to start the treatment for my amazing son. I had to fight with everything I have.

Shannon 8

I started the intensive chemotherapy, BEP, at 31 weeks pregnant which typically contains the drugs bleomycin, etoposide and cisplatin (platinum).

I had to have it without the bleomycin as this drug can harm a developing foetus, but after complications decided to give birth prematurely via c-section.

Me and my fiancé welcomed our son Hunter into this world on November 17th 2022, at 32 weeks. He weighed just 3 lbs 10 oz.

“Juggling being a new mum is difficult enough as it is, but things were even harder for me. My son was in intensive care due to being born so early and I was downstairs having chemotherapy which I was only allowed to pause for 30 minutes a day to go see him.”


Just four days after giving birth, I had to continue with several rounds of chemotherapy. When this was done, I was informed I’d need to endure a 2-stem cell/bone marrow transplant in London, 500 miles away from my baby and my home in Scotland.

The first stem cell and bone marrow transplant kept me in hospital for four weeks. It was extremely difficult being so far away from my son, Hunter. I had to bond with him via Facetime - he was only 6 months old yet and I was missing so many smiles, giggles and first words.”

Shannon 6

Despite the unfathomable ordeal and long treatment Shannon has been through, she believes things will get better. She shares her advice to raise awareness and help other women like her.

“I want to encourage anyone dealing with ovarian cancer that there is hope, and to hang on in there even when you feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You are not alone.”


I’m now infertile and going through the menopause. Although I'm hoping this is temporary, I’m unable to walk unaided, partially deaf, bald and have extreme nerve damage to my toes up to my knees, and my fingers up to my arms. This is due to my intensive treatment.

However, doctors are hoping I have an 70% chance of survival - even at stage 4.

I now have everything to live for, especially my family, friends and my miracle son Hunter who I love so much - and my beautiful dog, Neptune.

I encourage anyone dealing with ovarian cancer that there is hope, and to hang on in there even when you feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You must always have faith and pray for a beautiful life ahead.

There is power in positive thinking, and I urge anyone who feels alone to reach out to friends or family or any support groups. You are not alone, and my inbox is always open to anyone.

Shannon 10

My goal is to raise as much awareness for ovarian cancer as possible so people can gain strength for seeking advice and help if they are worried. Cancer is overlooked in young people especially ovarian. The way I felt when I initially sought help was that I was a hypochondriac.

I also want to implement routine ovarian cancer screenings upon cervical smear screening tests. By this, I mean simple routine tumour markers, CA-125 and AFP. I understand bloods alone cannot diagnose cancer however I do know that if these bloods are elevated, it can detect cancer before it’s too late. I believe this could save many of lives.”

Here at Ovarian Cancer Action, we’re determined to develop ground-breaking new treatments, be on the path to a screening programme and build better care pathways for every woman with ovarian cancer.

Last year alone, our incredible researchers contributed 11 new ovarian cancer discoveries which will help women with the disease to live longer and have more precious moments with their loved ones.

Can you make a donation today, in Shannon’s name?

You can follow Shannon’s story on Instagram. Watch her videos to find out how and her family are getting on and raising awareness.