‘I was diagnosed with leukaemia, then found out I was pregnant’ – one mum’s brave baby journey

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Watching those two little lines show up on the pregnancy test, Elle Halliwell’s stomach was in knots. She swore. She wanted this moment to be filled with joy – but all she could think about was the fact she’d been diagnosed with leukaemia just 48 hours earlier.

The fashion editor, radio host and showbiz commentator revealed her heart-wrenching journey in a piece she penned for the The Daily Telegraph.

She explained that what was supposed to be one of the happiest times of her life became the most challenging.

Desire For Baby Leads To Cancer Discovery

Ironically, it was her desire for her baby that led to the cancer diagnosis.

“My husband Nick and I were planning to try for a baby later in the year, so I visited my GP to get blood tests and check my folate and vitamin D levels,” Elle explains.

“Those levels came back fine, but my blood platelets were unusually high.”

She was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), a particularly vicious and deadly cancer. Just hours after this devastating news, Elle found out she was pregnant.

“Our first thought was, can we keep the baby? Our specialist strongly advised us not to because, without treatment, my slow-growing cancer could possibly turn aggressive and kill me before my pregnancy reached full term.”

The Couple Turns To Alternative Treatment

The research and soul searching began. Elle was advised to abort the pregnancy, freeze her eggs and begin oral chemotherapy, which she would have to continue for at least five years. Then she would perhaps be able to start her family.

Elle’s husband Nick did his own investigating and discovered that some women with CML had managed to deliver healthy babies after being treated with alternative treatments.

“So we travelled to South Australia to meet with CML world expert professor Timothy Hughes, who gave us some confidence that, due to the early detection, there was a strong chance I could manage the cancer until I gave birth and started on a more effective treatment.”

Crazy in ❤️

A photo posted by Elle Halliwell (@ellehalliwell) on

Elle says she doesn’t look sick. There are even days she forgets she’s sick. Perhaps that’s because at times, the reality is so hard to think about.

“It’s when I pause and think of the little person growing inside me, and my responsibility to care for him, that I feel sick with worry.

“But despite the weekly Interferon injections I have to take, he’s growing big and strong.”

Elle is now in her final trimester and is doing well.

“Most days I have a smile on my face. I’ve got a lot to live for and feel blessed to live in a country where my medication is affordable and the quality of care and medical support is very high.”

The Healthy Mummy team is sending all our best wishes to Elle and Nick, and we can’t wait to see you holding your precious bub!

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