A cancer survivor who was told she had “no chance of conceiving” stunned doctors by going on to give birth to her “miracle” son.
Despite beating breast cancer, Alison Watts was devastated after being told her treatment meant her dream of completing her family would not come true.
Alison had undergone intensive treatment for breast cancer aged 29 and had gone through the early menopause, and now, doctors had written to her to confirm she had “no realistic chance” of being fertile.
But against all odds, Alison and her husband Geoff, 41, fell pregnant naturally with a baby boy, Grayson, a decade later.
Now 42, she said: “He is our miracle, the final and perfect piece to our family jigsaw.
“Pregnancy after cancer is possible and people should never give up hope. You never know what’s around the corner and you don’t know what might happen if you don’t try.
“Grayson is proof that miracles do happen.”
The couple, from Cheltenham, Glos, had two children, Freya, then five, and Cody, then two, and had plans to try for a third baby when Alison found a lump in her breast just before her 30th birthday.
She said: “Cody was just a toddler, almost two and he was playing with my necklace. As I moved his hand to stop him breaking it, I suddenly felt a hard lump and thought what the hell is that.”
Alison said she instinctively knew what the lump could mean and arranged a doctor appointment for the very next day.
But during that initial appointment she was assured it was nothing to be concerned about as she was low risk due to her age.
She was told if she was still worried she could be referred for a check six weeks later.
“I just couldn’t wait, maybe it was my gut instinct but I had to know for sure so I had a private consultation and a biopsy later that same week. By the following week the results were back.”
“When I was first diagnosed, we saw a fertility consultant. We discussed freezing my eggs as I was only 29, but that would have meant delaying starting my chemo treatment for three months which was a risk we weren’t willing to take.
“We had to put my survival first, for the sake of the children we already had. They needed me to be ok, so I had to start the treatment as soon as possible.”
Following an operation to remove the lump, Alison underwent six rounds of gruelling chemo in the space of just four months, before starting a further six weeks of radiotherapy and a year of Herceptin treatment.
It was a year after her treatment ended that Alison and Geoff were ready to face the reality that the life-saving treatment had come at a cost.
Alison said: “I knew having chemotherapy would almost certainly destroy my fertility but it was a risk I had to take. I was already grateful for my two children but I just couldn’t shake off the feeling of wishing I could have another child.
“Cancer stole that choice and for me that was the hardest part.
“We had resigned ourselves to not having another baby. I always knew that we had made the right decision with not freezing my eggs. We couldn’t delay my treatment, that wasn’t an option, but it didn’t make the reality any easier.”
Their fears were confirmed when Alison had a blood test and received the crushing news that she had no chance of having another baby naturally.
She said: “I was absolutely gutted when I opened the letter. I was stood in the kitchen and I wasn’t expecting the results so soon so the letter took me completely by surprise.
“Although the results were expected seeing it in black and white was very difficult to come to terms with.”
The letter said Alison had “no realistic prospect of fertility” and the couple decided they had no choice but to move on.
The now mum-of-three said: “I was approaching 40 and another baby was something I really wanted, I needed to try and see if it was possible and not get more years down the line and have to live with ifs and maybes.
Alison said: “I knew in my heart I wasn’t done with having babies, I just knew something, or someone was missing from our family.”
In order to try and conceive naturally, Alison had to make the huge decision to stop taking Tamoxifen after almost 10 years on the drug which blocks oestrogen to stop any cancer cells from growing.
“Deciding to stop it was a very scary decision, it was my safety net to keep away cancer. Geoff and I thought long and hard about it but following a consultation with my highly regarded consultant oncologist we decided to go for it.”
The drug mimics the menopause but once Alison felt it was out of her system, just three months later, something incredible happened.
“I just knew. But it was still a huge surprise to us all. I couldn’t believe after all these years it was happening,” she said.
Alison had an easy and healthy pregnancy and baby Grayson arrived safely in February 2019.
She added: “The kids were absolutely thrilled for us. They were old enough to understand what we had been through and couldn’t wait for a baby brother.”