Tori was told she needed fertility treatment after suffering from cancer, but she was conceived naturally (Photo: Tori Coles).
It was another life-changing event for Tory Coles and the biggest shock in the spring, when the country was in a state of emergency.
The 31-year-old Isle of Wight discovered she was pregnant with her first child.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26, Tori always thought she needed fertility treatment to have a child.
She was one of the first to freeze her ovaries under the NHS because the technique was approved at the time of diagnosis. The idea is that it can be stimulated and reimplanted to have children.
But she became pregnant naturally and would now give birth to a miraculous girl at any moment.
The baby is 7 years old. January is planned, but the doctors think it may come sooner because of the current situation.
She’ll explain: At the end of October 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I underwent chemotherapy and surgery, and after the treatment I went into medical menopause and was given medication to suppress the estrogen levels in my body.
Last summer I decided to stop taking my medication because it had side effects, including weight gain and mood swings. I’ve been doing this for three and a half years and I thought the underlying risks had been reduced.
We wanted to have children, but we thought we had to plan and find a solution, and we got pregnant completely unexpectedly.
My ovary is still frozen somewhere and I’m having trouble getting pregnant!
Tori was diagnosed with breast cancer after undergoing bilateral DVT (blood clots in both legs), and tests showed that she had a hormonal imbalance.
Further tests showed that she had an aggressive terminal tumor in her breast.
She says: It’s kind of hard when you’re only 26. My world has been turned upside down.
The diagnosis was completely unexpected. Before that I hardly ever went to the doctor because I was healthy and fit.
Tori during cancer treatment (Photo: Tori Coles).
I’ve always worked or run a gym, so I’ve kept myself healthy.
She was first told that because the cancer was very aggressive, she could not retrieve eggs or embryos because she had to start the treatment as soon as possible.
But because he didn’t want to give up hope of a family, Tory recommended a meeting with a specialist in Southampton.
He informed her that morning that the ovarian cryopreservation procedure had been approved by the NHS and that she was a suitable candidate.
She was one of the first to undergo surgery and then continue her treatment.
She’ll explain: I did it right away, then there was chemo, then surgery, then radiation.
In seven months, I underwent seven sessions of chemotherapy, two surgeries and 25 sessions of radiotherapy, completing the treatment in August 2016.
Tori was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26 (Photo: Tori Coles).
After chemotherapy and radiation therapy Tori continued with hormone therapy and medication for bone diseases.
She knew it was better to wait until she was five years old with cancer to think about fertility treatments – but she succeeded in October, when she was heavily pregnant, for the five years.
I wouldn’t change my pregnancy, she says.
They don’t think it’s gonna happen, even with treatment. Some of my friends have been there and they weren’t so lucky.
Because of the pregnancy, she was unable to have a mammogram this year to check if she is coming back, which certainly worries her – but she plans to have a mammogram when she can after the baby is born.
Tori said: It’s scary to know when he’s coming back, and I can’t be tested the last few months, but that’s the way it is.
They fight all the time because I’ve seen friends with similar treatments and the same type of cancer relapse.
Tori’s baby is born early January (Picture: Tori Coles).
Every pain makes you wonder if it’s worth it, but you just have to get on with your life.
Tori’s entire pregnancy fell during the pandemic, which meant that there were restrictions on who could accompany her to the appointment, and that she could only have one person with her during childbirth.
It was weird, she said. It was really hard. My job was taken away because I run a gym, so I was unemployed for most of the lock-out process and have been locked up ever since.
My partner was only in one of the pictures. He hasn’t been to a counseling appointment or a growth scan, and I’m afraid the bond between me and the baby isn’t the same.
No matter how he tries to get in, it’s not the same audible heartbeat as the first time.
Tori and her partner Aaron (Photo: Tori Coles)
Having a child was a positive thing for all of us. It gave us something to discuss and look forward to during containment.
Tori used an application called Peanuts to find other parents online to support her when she couldn’t meet anyone in person.
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It helped a lot, she says. As a new mother I feel like I have no idea what I am doing, but you can ask questions and there is usually someone who can give advice.
You are connected to groups that have an appointment at about the same time, allowing you to communicate with people who are going through things at the same time. It’s been a great support to me during this period.
Download and join the Peanuts application to chat, connect and share tips with like-minded women at all stages of motherhood.
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