Mum, 32, who delayed skin cancer treatment to save unborn twins dies 10 months after giving birth

Danielle Dick began suffering intense headaches at the beginning of her pregnancy.

The 32-year-old, from Goddard, in the US state of Kansas, dismissed it as “pregnancy brain” side effects for as long as possible, until the debilitating pain left her unable to string a sentence together.

Devastatingly, at just 17 weeks’ gestation, Danielle was told she had stage 4 melanoma, and it had spread to her brain.

The tragic news came just five years after she had been given the all-clear for skin cancer.

Doctors informed Danielle that she would have a 20 per cent chance of surviving the cancer for another five years if she began immediate radiation therapy.

However, the mum knew this would kill her unborn babies, and made the heart-breaking decision to refuse treatment.

She bravely carried son Colby and daughter Reagan as far as she could manage, giving birth to the babies at 29 weeks in July last year.

Danielle and her husband Tyler were already parents to daughter Taylor, born in 2015.

Almost immediately after the twins’ birth, Danielle began intensive treatment but she unfortunately passed away in hospital in Houston on April 26.

Writing on a GoFundMe page established by the family, Danielle’s sister Rachel Miller said: 'The leptomeningeal disease spread faster than anyone was expecting.

'There was enough time that family was able to make it to Houston to spend time with her.

“Tyler was laying with her when she passed peacefully.

“We are all heartbroken and devastated and can’t imagine a life without Danielle.”

What is melanoma?

  • Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body
  • The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole
  • This can occur anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women
  • Melanomas are uncommon in areas which are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks and the scalp
  • In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than one colour
  • The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed
  • Metastatic melanoma is the most serious case of skin cancer and is when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
  • It is the most common form of cancer for young adults and is the leading cause of cancer death in women 25-30 years old
  • Around 90 per cent of melanoma cancer is caused by exposure to UV light, both from the sun and artificial sources like tanning beds
  • The five-year survival rate for stage 4 melanoma is less than 20 per cent and the 10-year survival rate is 10 to 15 per cent
  • Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with around 13,500 new cases of melanoma diagnosed each year

Danielle’s first brush with cancer came in 2010 after Tyler spotted a strange mole on her back in 2010.

At the time, a biopsy came back benign and the dermatologist told the couple not to worry about it.

However, the unusual mole grew back, prompting the couple to seek a second opinion.

A second biopsy confirmed melanoma and Danielle underwent surgery in late 2011.

She was considered cancer-free after five years, having had a series of bi-annual check-ups.

Shortly after, the couple welcomed their first child in 2015.

A year later, the small family was delighted to learn that Danielle was expecting twins.

However, at 17 weeks’ pregnant the family received the devastating news of Danielle’s cancer, which had spread to her brain and her stomach.

Danielle underwent operations during her pregnancy which saw doctors remove three masses from her brain and two from her abdominal wall.

While she underwent targeted radiation on her brain, she refused more aggressive radiation treatments as well as chemotherapy and contrast dye scans in an effort to protect her unborn children.

Two months after giving birth, and having celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary, Danielle began immunotherapy after fresh brain lesions were detected.

In March, scans found new tumours on her spine and more on her brain.

The new tumours meant the melanoma had likely spread to Danielle’s cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

The only viable treatment method available was to insert a catheter direct into Danielle's brain that would deliver chemotherapy drugs into her CSF.

The family chose to relocate to MD Anderson in Houston, Texas, for Danielle to undergo a one-month treatment program.

However, while she was there, she developed an infection and despite receiving a new catheter, she died a few days later.


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