A British woman’s twin girls saved her life when, while still in the womb, they kicked free a tumor growing in their mother’s uterus, the Daily Mail reports.
Though advised she needed to abort the twins so she could be treated for cancer, the mother avoided harsh cancer treatment so her babies could be born.
Michelle Stepney, 35, was expecting twins when she went to a hospital with a suspected miscarriage. The doctors realized that she had cervical cancer, saying that the kicking of the twins had dislodged a tumor.
Had the tumor not been dislodged, the cancer may not have been discovered in time for successful treatment.
After the discovery of the cancer, Stepney’s doctors told her that she would need to undergo chemotherapy and a hysterectomy. To do this, she would need to abort the twins.
Stepney refused. "I couldn't believe it when the doctors told me that the babies had dislodged the tumor," she said, according to the Daily Mail.
"I'd felt them kicking, but I didn't realize just how important their kicking would turn out to be.
"I owe my life to my girls, and that's why I could have never agreed with a termination."
Doctors at the Royal Marsden hospital gave Stepney reduced chemotherapy, hoping to stop the spread of the cancer during her pregnancy. She had chemotherapy treatments every two weeks, and the health of the babies was constantly monitored.
"I knew I could have an operation straight away and it would cure me of the cancer, but that would mean getting rid of my babies and I couldn't do that.
"I had two lives inside me and I just couldn't give up on them - especially after they had saved me like this," Stepney said.
The twin girls, Alice and Harriet, were delivered in December 2006 by caesarean section 33 weeks into the pregnancy. They were underweight and born without hair due to the chemotherapy, but were otherwise healthy.
"When I heard them both let out a cry it was the best sound in the world," their mother said.
Four weeks later, Stepney had a hysterectomy to remove the tumor. Tests showed that the cancer had not spread. A scan in December 2007 showed that Stepney was still cancer-free.
The twins are now one year old and thriving. She and her husband, Scott, also have a five-year-old son.
"I've had wonderful support from my husband and I couldn't have got through it without him," Stepney said. "I feel so lucky. And one day I will tell my daughters how they saved their mummy's life."
Stepney has been nominated for a Woman of Courage award by Cancer Research UK Race for Life and will be honored at a ceremony in London in mid-February.