'I feel like we've won the lottery': Pregnant woman who refused cancer treatment to save unborn baby makes miraculous recovery
Jo Powell, 41, discovered lump in her breast days after finding out she was pregnant with first child
22:05 GMT, 28 August 2012
Miracle babes: Jo Powell risked her own life by refusing treatment for breast cancer during her pregnancy with son Jake
It is a decision no expectant mother should have to face.
After years of trying for a baby, Jo Powell finally discovered that she was pregnant.
But her delight turned to despair days later when doctors found she had breast cancer and advised her to sacrifice her unborn child’s life in order to save her own by beginning chemotherapy.
Mrs Powell defied the doctors, however, and refused to start the treatment until much later in her pregnancy, in a gamble that could have cost her her life.
Miraculously, she and her husband Richard are now celebrating with their young son, Jake, after being told that she has beaten the cancer.
Mrs Powell, 41, an office administrator, said yesterday: ‘When I heard the word cancer my first thought was, “I’m going to lose my baby.”
‘It was like I was in a living nightmare. We had been trying for a baby for years, and we were convinced it wasn’t going to happen for us, so Jake was so special.
‘I knew we couldn’t give up on our baby. There was no way I was going to sacrifice him to save myself.
‘I knew that even if I didn’t make it, I would have brought a life into the world.’
The couple, from Newark, Nottinghamshire, discovered Mrs Powell was pregnant in 2010. But days later she found a lump in her breast.
Doctors at Nottingham City Hospital warned that they could not begin chemotherapy while she was still in the early stages of pregnancy.
Mrs Powell was told that if she chose to keep her unborn child she would have to delay chemotherapy until later in her pregnancy when her baby would be strong enough to survive it.
The doctors advised her to consider an abortion, explaining that her cancer was aggravated by her hormones and that the pregnancy could help the disease grow faster.
But Mrs Powell refused to give up on her unborn child.The doctors agreed to postpone her treatment for nearly six months but insisted on operating on her breast to remove the tumours on her lymph nodes immediately.
Risky: Mrs Powell did agree to have an operation to remove the lymph nodes from her breast when she was 10 weeks pregnant but was relieved to hear Jake's heartbeat following the surgery
Tiny bundle: Painter and decorator Richard had to look after his new baby son and care for his wife after she spent weeks in hospital, eventually undergoing a mastectomy following the birth
Mrs Powell began the chemotherapy
when she was five months’ pregnant. Amazingly, the treatment had no
effect on Jake, who was born just before Christmas in 2010.
But days after the birth, Mrs Powell
began intensive treatment for cancer which left her fighting for her
life. Mr Powell, 30, looked after their son while his wife spent weeks
in hospital before undergoing a mastectomy.
Now, after a long ordeal, the couple have been told she needs no further treatment.
Mrs Powell added: ‘We’re just thrilled that we can finally be a happy, healthy family after all we’ve been through.
‘I feel like we’ve won the lottery. I’m the luckiest woman in the world.’
Lucky: Mrs Powell said: 'Two years ago, I felt like our lives were falling apart. Now, I couldn't be happier. I feel like we're the luckiest family in the world'
Healthy boy: Luckily, Mrs Powell's cancer treatment has had no damaging effect on Jake, who was born just before Christmas 2010