An 18-year-old Pennsylvania woman was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in December while nearly eight months pregnant. But because of her unwavering faith and love for her now 2-week old daughter, she "has no fear."
Dana Scatton, a college student in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, learned she has a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma tumor, a rare form of brain cancer, after intense symptoms forced her to visit the hospital, PEOPLE reports. She recalled having difficulty moving her legs and speaking clearly.
"I couldn't believe it," Scatton told PEOPLE of her diagnosis. "But in that moment I gave it to God. There is nothing else I could have done."
Out of fear it would harm the baby, Scatton held off treatments as long as she could. But when her symptoms worsened, she was admitted to the hospital on Christmas Day to immediately begin radiation.
On January 4, she gave birth to a health baby girl named Aries Marie.
"Aries got the right amount of time that she needed to be in there and God protected her in my belly," Scatton said. "I knew I was raising a healthy baby, it was just me that was sick. I knew that I had to keep pushing for her. I did the things that I had to do."
Following the close care of doctors, both Scatton and her daughter were discharged from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on Tuesday.
"We're blessed to leave on the same day," the new mom said. She and Aries will be moved to the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia until she finishes radiation treatment on February 1.
Despite a grim projection for Scatton's life expectancy, she is choosing to remain optimistic, looking toward the future.
"I see myself taking care of my daughter, raising her and living in my life," she said. "I'm taking things one day at a time."
Scatton's brother JJ Gundry, 27, told PEOPLE that without radiation treatment, doctors gave her three months to live. With her current form of treatment, though, he said her life expectancy is nine to 12 months.
"Doctors always reference the statistics and it's a very low survival rate," Gundry said. "But there are also a lot of treatments and clinical trials — some in phase two — that have positive results."
Scatton's family is working to determine the next course of treatment she should receive, and has raised more than $45,000 from donors to pursue continued care.
Gundry said his sister's courage has been admirable despite the devastating diagnosis, and he and the family will continue to keep her, and Aries, at the forefront of their attention.
"She has been a rock for our entire family," Scatton's brother said. "She is calm, peaceful and strong. She always sees the positive and that's pretty amazing."0comments
Gundry also vows that Aries will be in good care, no matter Scatton's condition.
"She is Dana's legacy," he said of Aries, "and protecting that legacy will be our number one priority."