From the very beginning, Elle Halliwell has chosen the life of her son.
She chose his life, when she learned she was pregnant 48 hours after she was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer and decided to keep the baby.
She chose his life, when she said ‘no’ to receiving treatment until after he was born. Even though the delay meant she might not survive the pregnancy.
Today, on Mother’s Day, five months after the birth of Tor Felix Biasotto, Halliwell, 31, is still choosing the life of her son.
“It’s so surreal. Looking back to this time last year, everything’s different,” the former newspaper reporter told tonight’s 60 Minutes.
“We have an extra person in the family and he has just completed it. It’s amazing.”
Halliwell is living with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML). She hadn’t known she was sick until she received the results of a routine blood test while trying to fall pregnant.
She received the diagnosis two days before learning she was four weeks pregnant with her first child.
“I look back [at the choice I made to delay treatment and have the baby] and I think, ‘is that a terrible thing to do as a mother – to leave your child motherless?” she said on Sunday night’s program.
“Looking back, I think it was a bit reckless but I just had this feeling in my gut that I was going to get through. And now I’m certain that I am.”
Halliwell started treatment as soon as Tor was born, three weeks premature, in December last year.
“I thought, ‘I’ve been stressing about you for the last nine months and I can finally hold you in my arms and say ‘you’re okay, Mum’s okay, everything’s okay’.”
She is taking tablets – a type of oral chemotherapy – twice a day to keep the cancer at low levels through her bloodstream. There is no cure for CML and, without the tablets, she would have a three to five year prognosis.
“I have this little – well, not little – this eight-kilogram baby that I am keeping alive. And I’ll do anything to make sure I see him grow up to be the man that I know he’ll be.”
Listen: Julia Watson on the experience of being told you’re going to die. Post continues below.
The alternative? It’s impossible to consider.
“You just can’t think about that because it’s too devastating. Too devastating,” Halliwell said. “The thought of not being able to ever see him again, that would be the most heartbreaking thing of all.”
“I am going to be clawing my way through life for that boy! Come hell or high water.”
And that is what Halliwell, and her husband Nick Biasotto, have done ever since receiving the best news, after the worst news of their lives.
They have chosen their little boy, Tor Felix Biasotto, who today celebrated a day no one knew was a certainty: Mother’s Day with Elle.