Boy survives six months of chemotherapy in the womb as mum battled breast cancer AND refused to abort him on doctor’s advice

Stephanie Papworth was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 12 weeks pregnant, but refused to have a termination

Stephanie Papworth, pictured with her son Gabriel, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 12 weeks pregnant, but refused to have a termination

Stephanie Papworth was 12 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed
This is the miracle baby who survived six months of chemotherapy in his mother’s womb after she defied doctors and refused to have a termination.

Stephanie Papworth was just 12 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Doctors suggested terminating the pregnancy as they didn’t think the baby would be able to survive the aggressive treatment.

But Miss Papworth was determined to give her baby a chance of life and refused.

Her miracle baby endured months of chemotherapy while in the womb and defied all the odds to be born healthy.


And Miss Papworth has just been given the all-clear herself after a year of treatment.

The 34-year-old said: ‘He really is my little miracle – every time I look at him I feel so blessed. I can’t believe he survived all this time in the womb whilst I was having chemotherapy.’

Miss Papworth, who lives in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, was just 12 weeks pregnant when she discovered a lump in her left breast.

She said: ‘As soon as I felt it, I just felt sick with fear. It was a hard marble-sized lump and even though I was so young, I was so worried that it was breast cancer. I tried to push it to the back of my mind and convince myself it was a harmless lump.’

Miss Papworth went to see her GP who told her it was probably nothing to worry about, but she referred her to the breast clinic in York for further checks.

She underwent an unltrasound and biopsy three days later and doctors delivered the devastating news to her that it was a grade three aggressive breast cancer.

She said: ‘I just felt numb, I was so shocked. All I could think of was the baby growing inside me and what would happen to it.

‘I didn’t want my baby growing up without a mother.’

The doctors told Miss Papworth that
her unborn baby may not survive the aggressive months of chemotherapy
treatment she needed to try and survive.

said: ‘The doctors offered me a termination as they thought the baby
may die due to the treatment. But I was determined. I had already fallen
in love with my baby and I wanted to give it the best possible chance
of survival. It would mean that we were both fighting for our lives.’

Miracle baby: A scan showing Gabirel in the womb, three months before he was born

Miracle baby: A scan showing Gabirel in the womb, three months before he was born

Miss Papworth, who also has daughter Maisie, ten, and son Jacob, 12, underwent a four hour operation at Bradford Royal Infirmary to remove the lump.

She said: ‘I was so worried about the baby, whether it would survive the operation. When I came round, I only had a tiny bit of morphine so it wasn’t too much for the baby, so I was in a lot of pain.

‘Then I had a scan to see if he was still alive, and when we heard the heartbeat and knew he had survived the operation, I cried with relief.’

Miss Papworth then started on aggressive chemotherapy treatment. Without it, the doctors told her she would die.

She said: ‘I had no choice. I had to have the chemotherapy to stay alive, but I was terrified that it would kill my baby.

‘Some of my hair fell out, and I felt sick and exhausted, but my baby kept moving inside me, and gave me hope. Every kick that I felt just spurred me on.’

She had a scan every three weeks, and each time doctors said that the baby was still alive.

Two weeks before the birth the chemotherapy finished, and Gabriel was born at the end of November 2010, weighing just 4Ib13.

Miss Papworth, who is separated from her partner Richard Marsh, 38, a plumber, said: ‘When I actually held him in my arms I just couldn’t believe it, that he had survived through so much. It was the most amazing feeling.’

Miss Papworth had to start another course of chemotherapy treatment when Gabriel was just two weeks old, which finished in March last year. She then underwent another four weeks of radiotherapy treatment, finishing in April.

Since then she has had several scans, and recently she was finally given the news that she had been waiting for – that she was all clear from cancer.

She said: ‘It was the most amazing news I could hope for. I’m all clear from cancer and there is no sign of it coming back.

‘Gabriel is doing really well too. Despite being premature he’s healthy and the doctors believe he has suffered no side effects from the chemotherapy. He is an absolute miracle.’