Though Pennsylvania teen Dana Scatton is expecting her first baby, she’s very much still a child herself. Scatton, the youngest of five, lives with her parents, is in her first semester of college, and loves dance, sports, and music.
The 17-year-old was also recently diagnosed with a rare terminal cancer that usually affects children between the ages of 5 and 20, the Daily Mail reports.
Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma is a tumor that starts in the brain stem, and although 10 to 20 percent of childhood tumors are this type of tumor, also called brainstem gliomas, they can occur at any age during childhood and rarely occur in adults, according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Scatton’s symptoms first started appearing in November of this year. Approximately six months pregnant, Scatton started losing control over her ability to talk, swallow, and eat.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, she explained:
“I noticed that it took me a little to swallow, then walking got harder and it was even hard to speak.”
By December, her symptoms had progressed. One day, while walking to board the bus to Luzerne Community College, Scatton felt her legs become “limp.” Suddenly, the teen had trouble walking properly.
Scatton thought perhaps the stress of attending college-level classes while pregnant was the cause of the unusual changes or perhaps the way the baby was positioned in the womb.
“I thought it could be the way the baby was sitting on nerves.”
Scatton mentioned her symptoms to her doctor during a routine prenatal exam. By the following day, the teen was in the emergency room undergoing a CAT scan and an MRI.
Doctors discovered a tumor located in the base of her brain, and Scatton was given three to nine months to live.
As a GoFundMe for Scatton states, her pregnancy has made the diagnosis more difficult. Her sister JJ wrote:
Although we’ve received options for recommended treatment, Dana is 7 months pregnant with her baby girl Aries, which has made the situation a bit more complex.
She continued that this is reportedly the first case doctors in Scatton’s health network have seen in which this type of tumor involved a pregnancy.
According to the Daily Mail, Scatton said after doctors delivered the news the first thought she had was not of her own health but that of her unborn baby. Doctors have considered beginning radiation therapy, though the treatment is not usually administered during pregnancy as it can harm the fetus, according to the American Cancer Society.
Without treatment, Scatton’s life expectancy is two to three months.
Scatton’s doctors believe since the radiation therapy will be centered around the teen’s head and away from the womb there is a low-risk of it affecting the baby. As this type of tumor has no cure and 90 percent of those suffering from this type of tumor pass away within 18 months, radiation therapy could help Scatton’s life expectancy by nine months, the Daily Mail reports.
According to GoFundMe, Scatton and doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are working to determine if she will begin treatment before or after the birth of her baby. Doctors are also considering delivering Scatton’s baby at 37 weeks so the teen can begin treatment.
Though Scatton’s health is quickly deteriorating, she remains hopeful, as she told the Daily Mail:
“I’m not going to go by what they say, I’m expecting a miracle.”
For Scatton, right now only one thing matters: “I just want to be a wonderful mother.”