A mum who made the agonising decision to delay cancer treatment when she found it could harm her unborn baby has given birth – and been given the all-clear.
Ellie Whittaker, 21, was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in October 2019 when she was 16 weeks pregnant.
Having previously suffered a miscarriage, Ellie was determined to have her baby – despite being advised to undergo an abortion.
But rather than terminate the baby, Ellie, from Chesterfield, decided to continue with the pregnancy and give birth before she started chemotherapy.
Her daughter, Connie, arrived by c-section in March 2020, weighing 6lbs 12oz, at Jessops Wing, Sheffield.
And a week later a scan revealed that Ellie’s cancer had progressed to stage three.
Ellie underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy and she was finally given the all-clear two weeks after her final scan in October 2020.
Ellie said: ‘There was no chance on this planet I was going to abort my baby.
‘I pushed the cancer as far from my mind and focused on Connie – I couldn’t wait to be a mum.
‘I don’t regret my decision and I’d make the same one again given the choice.
‘I lived with it for so long it’s weird that it’s finally gone – I can’t believe it.’
The mum-of-one didn’t have many symptoms apart from a lump in her neck and feeling exhausted.
After having a miscarriage in April 2019, Ellie started feeling really run down and developed a viral infection.
When a lump appeared in her neck, she went to the GP and underwent tests in July.
It was around the same time that Ellie and her fiancé, Kieran Marriott, 22, a scaffolder, found out they were expecting another baby.
She said: ‘I didn’t know I was pregnant but losing the baby made us realise we were ready to start a family.
‘One day I was so sleepy I accidentally fell asleep in a meeting when I worked for the post office.
‘When the lump appeared the doctor thought it was tonsillitis but I knew it was something else.’
Ellie was eventually referred to Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Derbyshire, for a scan and then a biopsy on the lump.
An MRI at the Macmillan Cancer Unit confirmed it was stage two Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Ellie was given the choice to delay her treatment or abort her baby.
Saying there was ‘no way’ she would abort, Ellie decided to delay treatment.
Ellie was referred to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital where she was scanned every two weeks until she underwent a planned c-section at 37 weeks.
Doctors planned to start Ellie’s treatment at 27 weeks but decided she was doing well enough to wait until after the birth.
Ellie gave birth to Connie on 18 March and started the treatment almost immediately after.
She said: ‘I tried to spend as much time with Connie as I could before I started.
‘I remember crying and thinking I wouldn’t be able to be there for her. I knew the chemotherapy would take its toll.
‘But when they scanned me, the cancer had progressed to stage three – it had spread to my stomach and spleen.’
During her fourth round of chemotherapy, Ellie underwent a scan and discovered she was responding well to treatment and could drop one of the drugs she was taking.
The mum-of-one underwent 12 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and finished in September.
Ellie underwent a final PET scan in October and doctors broke the exciting news that there were no signs of cancer and it was unlikely to return.
‘I’m so pleased it’s gone and I can focus on being a mum,’ she said.
‘Kieran’s been incredible and cares for Connie whenever I’ve got hospital appointments.
‘Connie’s an amazing baby – she started teething and trying to sit-up. She’s the quietest baby and sleeps through the night.
‘I wouldn’t change her for the world.’
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