The 28-year-old lost part of her right lung as well as her left ovary and fallopian tube to the disease. She also endured two stem cell transplants and chemotherapy. Now Shannon is planning her wedding to Mark Taylor on October 25 next year, with the couple’s 11-month-old son Hunter, right at the heart of the big day.
Shannon knows exactly the impact improved cancer treatments are having on lives, which is why she is backing Stand Up To Cancer, from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4, which raises funds to takes developments from the lab and accelerates them into new tests and treatments.
Shannon said: “I have everything to live for. I’m getting married next year to the love of my life who has been there every step of the way. On our wedding day, I’ll walk down the aisle with our son Hunter in my arms.
"I discovered I was pregnant with Hunter during the darkest of times when I was struggling to come to terms with the news that the cancer I thought had gone for good was back.
"It was frightening when I was informed that if I didn’t start chemotherapy straight away then I wouldn’t be alive to see my baby grow up.
“It’s amazing being a mum and I wake up every morning feeling so unbelievably lucky that I have my beautiful, miracle son. I want to Stand Up To Cancer to give people with cancer strength and help them know they’re not alone.”
In October 2020 Shannon was first diagnosed with a mixed germ cell tumour, a rare form of ovarian cancer. She had gone to the doctor after feeling run down and noticing a lump protruding from her stomach.
She had surgery to remove the grapefruit-size tumour and, after being told no further treatment was needed, she hoped to have put cancer behind her and started dating Mark.
The couple suffered a miscarriage on October 27 2021, Shannon’s birthday. In March 2022, she turned to her doctor for help after feeling constantly out of breath and exhausted. Tests showed cancer had spread to her right lung. It was as Shannon struggled to come to terms with the news, that the oncologist from Ninewells hospital in Dundee called her with the results of a blood test which stopped her in her tracks.
Shannon said: “I was three weeks pregnant. It felt like everything collapsed around me. I was happy because I was pregnant but I was also devastated. It was a time of so many mixed emotions. I desperately wanted to have this baby but felt instantly protective of it. I didn’t want to do anything that would put the health of the baby at risk.”
Doctors advised Shannon to have chemotherapy and surgery to remove the tumours from her lung. She was 16 weeks pregnant when the operation went ahead at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
Shannon said: “I was terrified of harming my baby and nearly turned my back on surgery altogether due to my worries that it could put the baby at risk.
“I came so close to walking away from that ward but luckily the anaesthetist reassured me that it was going to be okay and I went ahead. Surgeons removed around a third of my lung. I woke up after the operation in excruciating pain but refused any painkiller but paracetamol. My first question was about my baby. It was a relief when the medical team did an ultra sound and I could hear my baby’s heart beating.”
But further tests showed the cancer had spread to her spine, pelvic bone, lymph node and a 5cm mass next to her right kidney. Doctors explained the cancer was now stage four. By the time Shannon was 32 weeks pregnant, scans showed that her baby was not growing as well as before and a caesarean section was booked.
On November 17 last year, at Ninewells Hospital, her son Hunter John Taylor was born, weighing 3lb 10oz. Being born prematurely meant he started off life in the neonatal unit but he was healthy. Just four days after Hunter was born, Shannon had a second round of chemotherapy and had only 30 minutes a day disconnected from the treatment to visit her son.
In April 2023, Shannon travelled to Hammersmith Hospital in London to have a stem cell transplant to help her body make new healthy blood cells after her own had been damaged by the disease. She also started high doses of chemotherapy followed by the stem cells being administered back in to her body through a drip. Later that summer she returned for her second transplant but was finally able to come home to Scotland on August 4.
Later this year Shannon will return to hospital in London as she is due surgery on her spine.
Shannon who is a talented singer said music and the support of loved ones have proved her lifeline and she plans to enter singing competition,The Voice UK.
She said: “I’m lucky to have so many special people in my life. There have been moments throughout this journey where I’ve almost completely lost myself to the point of no return. However ugly these moments felt, the people I love around me helped make me stronger. They’ve helped me to see that cancer never wins.”
The Stand Up To Cancer campaign will continue throughout October, with a collection of special programming airing on Channel 4 later in the month and culminating in a night of live television on Friday, November 3.
Further details about the campaign can be found at su2c.org.uk.
People can support Stand Up To Cancer this autumn by getting sponsored to do 100 squats every day throughout November. Participants can adapt the challenge to suit their fitness level and complete their squats anytime, anywhere – all at once or throughout the day.
By the end of the 30 days, they will have clocked-up a total of 3000 squats to help power life-saving research. Alternatively, less energetic folk can choose to donate, raise money in their own way, or pick from a host of fun-filled ideas with a free fundraising pack available online for inspiration and support.
Lisa Adams, the campaign’s spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “Thanks to our supporters, our researchers are working tirelessly to help more people with cancer survive- from developing a molecule to super-charge the immune system to attack tumours, to re-programming viruses to seek and destroy cancer cells.
“But we must go further and faster. One-in-two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. All of us can help beat it. That’s why we’re asking everyone to Stand Up To Cancer with us. Whether it’s choosing to donate, fundraise, or tackle the ups and downs of our squats challenge, if thousands of us take a stand we’ll speed up the progress of vital research – meaning more people live longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer.”