Finding out you have life-threatening cancer in your 20s is confronting enough, but what if your treatment could mean you may never become a mother?
Now there's hope for female cancer sufferers with the amazing news that a woman who had her ovaries removed is pregnant.
Brisbane mum-to-be Vali is 26 weeks pregnant with twin girls. She and her partner Dean are thrilled to share their news.
"We're having two girls," Vali told Lateline. "Yeah, pretty excited. A bit freaked out."
The couple's miracle twins are due a week before Christmas.
"It's amazing the medical and scientific breakthroughs - it's almost science fiction," her partner Dean said.
Vali's ovaries were removed as part of her cancer treatment but during surgery on the second ovary, doctors took a portion of it and froze it. That was 10 years ago.
"I was really lucky with my doctor because he was really supportive and explained things and then offered me the opportunity to freeze tissue - that hope that maybe some day in the future that something would be possible," Vali explained.
When Vali and Dean decided they wanted to be parents they moved from Brisbane to Melbourne for treatment at Melbourne IVF. The tissue was grafted onto the outside of her abdomen and used to grow eggs in a world-first procedure. Two eggs were harvested from the tissue and they were successfully fertilised this year using IVF.
Previously doctors had only been able to transplant the tissue back to it's original position and this has had limited results.
Melbourne IVF fertility preservation head Kate Stern said, "The tissue started to work after several months, then we did very, very gentle IVF treatment with hormone stimulation. We only had two eggs - we were so thrilled to see we got two embryos from those eggs.'
"I think we all had a big cry together."
More than 300 Victorians have ovarian tissue stored at the Royal Women's Hospital. Professor John McBain, of Melbourne IVF, said: "It is important for all of those women and young women who do develop cancer that this treatment is now successful."
Photo credit: Melbourne IVF
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