A first time mum with cancer says pregnancy masked her symptoms - after doctors discovered a tumour in her chest at 32 weeks. 

Zoe Plastiras, 24, from High Wycombe, woke up struggling to breathe in September 2022 and called 111. She was told to go to A&E where she had a chest x-ray.

At 32 weeks, doctors discovered a 12cm tumour in Zoe's chest, but were unable to discover whether it was cancerous or not until she gave birth. 

Her daughter, Ophelia, one, was born at 37 weeks on October 4, 2022, and in December 2022, Zoe underwent a biopsy which revealed she had lymphoma -  a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. 

Zoe had no cancer symptoms - which she believes was masked by pregnancy - but after Ophelia was born she lost a stone, started having night sweats and itchy skin.

Bucks Free Press: Zoe Plastiras

Zoe has undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy but both have not worked and she is in limbo while doctors decide next steps.

Beautician Zoe said: "I was so happy when I found out I was pregnant with Ophelia.

"I felt so positive - that everything was going to be fine.

"Up until my diagnosis, everything was completely normal - I had a straightforward pregnancy.

"I woke up one morning and said I felt like I wasn't breathing properly and then found out I had a tumour in my chest."

In February 2022, Zoe and her partner Joe Bird, 28, a heating engineer, found out they were expecting their first child

Bucks Free Press: Zoe Plastiras

The pregnancy was "normal" until Zoe woke up one morning struggling to breathe so went to the hospital.

Zoe said: "I was 32 weeks pregnant, I woke up struggling to breathe so my partner said we should go to hospital.

"They tested my heart, I had bloods and an MRI. They told me I had a tumour but said they were happy for my pregnancy to continue as normal.

"When they told me it was a tumour they used the word 'mass' but it didn't correlate."

Bucks Free Press: Zoe Plastiras

Zoe said she was told that she had a 1 per cent chance of being diagnosed with a lymphoma because she wasn't presenting with any typical symptoms - including fatigue, night sweats and unexplained weight loss.

Her pregnancy carried on as normal and baby Ophelia was born via emergency c-section on October 4, 2022, at 6.54am, weighing 6lbs 3oz.

On November 8, 2022, Zoe had two needle biopsies that were unsuccessful as they were unable to retrieve a sample.

A few weeks later, on December 19, Zoe went for another biopsy and three days later was told she had a lymphoma.

Zoe said: "Once Ophelia was out I lost weight very quickly, I thought it was weird.

"It is like my pregnancy masked the symptoms, once Ophelia was out it was like the cancer took over.

"I went from being 11 stone with my pregnancy weight to being 9lb 2oz - the weight fell off me."

Zoe is now awaiting next steps as the tumour has still has not gone away.

📢 "Why wait for news? With Bucks Free Press get real-time updates directly on our ad-free app. Subscribe for unlimited access to our digital edition and enjoy 80% fewer ads on our website. Click here to find out more about how to get your news, your way, every day. #UnlimitedNews #AdLightExperience" 📢