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Rachel, who underwent life-saving surgery Hero

Giving Rachel the gift of time with her baby

A shock cancer diagnosis at five months pregnant left first-time mum Rachel fearing for her unborn child. Thanks to donations, her surgeon Ben ensured she could enjoy precious moments with baby Phoenix.

Rachel Bailey was over the moon when she found out that she was pregnant, but her world turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer at 21 weeks.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is always worrying, but the team at Guy’s Cancer understood that receiving this news when you’re carrying a child can be devastating. “I was scared that I was going to lose my baby, or that she was going to be really premature,” Rachel explained.

Luckily, tests suggested that the cancer was slow-growing, and Rachel’s surgeon, Ben Challacombe, reassured her that with the support of her dedicated team of midwives, she could continue with her pregnancy before having the tumour removed.

Rachel was overjoyed when a healthy little girl, Phoenix – who she affectionately calls Fi – arrived at 38 weeks. But, with her surgery scheduled for just two weeks later, the prospect of being separated from her tiny baby was unbearable.

I started to get upset and panicky. I was worried about having a two-week-old baby left at home. What if I don’t wake up from this?

Rachel with her baby after surgery

“The worst thought I had was that I might be put to sleep and not open my eyes,” Rachel remembers. “That was the worst thought; that I wouldn’t be going home to my baby.”

However, thanks to innovative surgery, Rachel was back home creating special memories with Fi just 25 hours later. With the help of specialist robotics equipment funded by supporter donations, Ben was able to carry out a highly targeted operation which meant a much quicker recovery time for Rachel.

“The tumour was quite big – there are not many people who would have done robotic surgery,” recalls Ben. “It was one of the biggest partial removals I have done without removing the whole kidney, but that would cause a bigger scar, more pain, and a slower recovery for Rachel.”


Ben and the midwives were really fighting my corner. I didn't feel like I was alone.

Rachel with her consultant Ben and the clinical team

Such personalised care is at the heart of Guy’s Cancer, from tailored treatments to the ongoing support of the dedicated clinicians. “When I woke up from my operation, Ben was by my side, and he rang my mom straight away.”

Reflecting on her care by the exceptional Guy’s Cancer team, Rachel says: “I love the personal touches to their care. They look after every individual in special ways.”

Over two years since her successful surgery, Rachel remains cancer-free, and Phoenix will soon be starting nursery. “She’s such a happy little spirit,” Rachel says proudly. “I’m really looking forward to taking her travelling and going on new adventures.”

That’s why we’re not just Guy’s Cancer Charity, but Rachel and Phoenix’s too.

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