The Daily Telegraph’s fashion editor Elle Halliwell has shared the unimaginable moment she learned she was pregnant with her first child just 48 hours after being diagnosed with leukaemia.
“When your baby news coincides with a cancer diagnosis, however, it can be one of the most challenging things you can ever face,” the 30-year-old wrote in a heartfelt essay on Friday.
“That’s the situation I found myself in on May 1 this year. I was floating in a haze of Xanax and shock when the two little blue lines appeared on the pregnancy stick, confirming I was expecting my first child.”
Heidi Klum and Elle Halliwell. Source: Instagram.
Sharing her story to coincide with Daffodil Day, the 30-year-old explained she and her husband Nick had decided to start planning for a baby, so Halliwell visited her GP to have her folate and Vitamin D levels checked.
When her results showed an unusually high level of blood platelets, another test was taken. Two weeks later, the levels were even higher and Halliwell was referred to a specialist.
Once there, Halliwell received a devastating diagnosis.
Elle Halliwell on set at 9 News. Source: Instagram.
"I had chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), a disease that before 2001 had a five-year survival rate of fewer than one in three and was considered one of the more devastating forms of blood cancer, with an eight-year survival rate of less than 15 per cent."
Perhaps most shocking of all was the fact Halliwell had shown no symptoms of being ill.
Four weeks into her first pregnancy and with her diagnosis now in hand, Elle and Nick had a serious and life-changing decision to make.
"Our first thought was, can we keep the baby?" Halliwell said. "Our specialist strongly advised us not to because, without treatment, my slow-growing cancer could possibly turn aggressive and kill me before my pregnancy reached full term."
Elle Halliwell (right). Source: Instagram.
"He recommended I abort, freeze some eggs and immediately begin a relatively new form of oral chemotherapy called tyrosine kinase inhibitors, or TKIs, which I would have to take for at least five years — until I was 35. Only then could I consider stopping treatment and try to conceive."
Still in shock, Halliwell says her husband sprang into action, researching and eventually finding infomration about treatments that had allowed other women with CML to deliver healthy babies.
Fortunately one of the leading world experts was located in Australia.
The pair travelled to South Australia to meet Professor Timothy Hughes, who was confident Halliwell would be able to manage the cancer until giving birth.
Halliwell speaks to The Today Show on Friday. Post continues...
Now 20 weeks pregnant, Halliwell says her baby boy is healthy and meeting his pregnancy milestones.
"Most days I have a smile on my face," she says. "I’ve got a lot to live for and feel blessed to live in a country where my medication is affordable and the quality of care and medical support is very high.
"My life will never be the same, but I’m looking forward to what is in store. And thanks to the support of my family, friends and the generous public donations to organisations such as the Cancer Council and Leukaemia Foundation, I have a very good chance of not only celebrating my son’s first Christmas this year, but also being there for many of his milestones."