Beautiful young cancer survivor told she had menopause aged 20 is now pregnant
A cancer survivor who was told by doctors that she was starting the menopause at 20 is now pregnant with her first child.
Danielle Thompson, 21, from Intake, Sheffield, was devastated when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011 – but despite beating cancer twice, she was rendered infertile.
The full-time student underwent chemotherapy and surgery, something that caused her to start early menopause.
Danielle was heart-broken, she desperately wanted a family but instead she was prepared for Hormone Replacement Therapy to ease the menopause symptoms.
But at a routine health check in September this year, she and boyfriend Dan Holmes, 24, were given the surprising news that they were to expect a baby in April next year.
Danielle said: “Believing that I was starting the menopause at the age of 20 was horrific.
“To have the choice of giving birth naturally taken away from me so early on in my life was such a shock.
“It all seemed very final and it was so upsetting.
“I was thrilled to have beaten cancer twice but now it seemed it would impact the rest of my life.
“When I went for a routine blood test in September to check my HCG levels, which is the hormone that shows up if you either have cancer or are pregnant, I got a phonecall straightaway the next day.
“They told me they’d picked up the HCG hormone in the blood test, so I just presumed that the cancer had come back – I really braced myself for the bad news.
“I never in a million years would have guessed that I was pregnant – they had seemed so convinced that I had started the menopause it didn’t seem possible.
“I was struggling with weight gain, bad skin and mood swings, but I put it all down to the menopause – not a baby!”
Danielle was first given a shocking cancer diagnosis when she was just 17.
She said: “I woke up in excruciating pain in my abdomen one night, which was first diagnosed as a cyst on my ovary.
“They performed keyhole surgery with the intention of removing the cyst, but when I woke up it was a different story.
“They told me that they had removed one ovary and my fallopian tube on the right-hand side because they had found a malignant cancerous tumour whilst operating.
“It was such a shock because I never would have expected to have woken up and be told that.
“A few weeks later I had a post-op and was given the all-clear.
“Whilst they said I could go through the menopause early because I would now have less eggs, they told me that it would not necessarily affect my fertility.”
Danielle continued to have regular CT scans to make sure that the cancer didn’t return, but unfortunately a scan in February 2012 detected another cancerous tumour.
She said: “This time the tumour was in my lymph nodes, near my kidneys.
“I had to have three cycles of chemotherapy over three months.
“They wanted me to start the treatment quickly, but they did warn me that with the chemo came a high chance of becoming infertile.
“That was when I decided to have my eggs frozen, because I couldn’t bear the thought of not ever having the chance to be a mum.
“It was a real risk to do it though because the hormone you have to inject yourself with whilst having your eggs frozen makes the cancerous tumour grow.
“But it was all worth it – I couldn’t lose that chance.
“Thankfully the chemo was successful and I have so far been all clear for three-and-a-half-years.”
Danielle met Dan 18-months ago whilst they were working in the same local pub as each other.
She said: “We hadn’t been trying for a baby but we are over the moon.
“At first we felt a lot of mixed emotions – and I definitely felt relief at the realisation that I could have a baby naturally.
“I’d begun to believe that if I were to ever be a mum my only option would be through IVF.
“Now we’re very excited and planning for our new-born which is due on April 28.”
Professor Christina Fotopoulou, a Consultant Gynecologic Oncologist in Queen Charlotees and Chelsea Hospital, Imperial College London, said: “Most chemotherapy regimes, some more than others, carry the risk of having a negative effect on the ovarian function.
“Especially if the woman stops having her period over a longer time, this may suggest impaired ovarian function and can be a sign of early menopause.
“If she hasn’t had her period for a longer period than 6 months and if her hormonal tests have suggested that she is in an early menopause than chances of conceiving are very low but not completely impossible.”