In April 2016 Elle Halliwell, a popular fashion editor and showbiz reporter for The Sunday Telegraph, received news that would change her life: she had Leukaemia. Then 48 hours later, as she was coming to grips with her diagnosis, as she was sharing it with family and friends, another bombshell: she was four weeks pregnant.
Elle was now forced to grapple with a heartbreaking decision: terminate her pregnancy or risk her own life by delaying cancer treatment until after the birth.
The following is an extract from her book, A Mother’s Choice.
8 May 2016
My name’s Elle, but you can call me ‘Mum’. You don’t have a name, and I’m not sure if you ever will. I don’t know if you’ll ever say my name, or look into my eyes as you’re falling asleep in my arms.
It’s Mother’s Day today. Your grandmother is staying with us at the moment, because I’m sick. She wouldn’t have been here for it otherwise, so I guess that’s one positive thing that’s come from last week’s crappy news. I know it’s not really officially Mother’s Day for me, but I doubt I’ll have anything to celebrate next year, so I’m going to pretend—just for today—that I’m healthy and have nothing to fear. I don’t think we’re going to do much today; nobody in the family is really in the mood for champagne and finger sandwiches at the moment.
You only came into my world a few weeks ago, and I’ll be frank: your timing was terrible. I don’t know why you chose me to give you life of all the millions of potential mothers out there. Sure, I’m a pretty good cook and your grandparents are awesome, but my body’s struggling to keep itself alive, let alone you. If you’re anything like your dad, though, you don’t back down from challenges.
The doctor says the safest choice would be to send you back, to that place we go before and after we’re alive. I don’t know what it’s like there. What I do know is that that place is not here, with me, your mum. How could I send you there when I’m scared of going myself? How could I deny you the joy of feeling snowflakes fall on your nose for the first time, or being tickled with kisses until you can’t breathe? I’ve done all of that. I’ve played in the mud, travelled to far-off places and been visited by Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny too many times to count.