A mum left heartbroken after losing five babies before being diagnosed with cancer when she fell pregnant for a sixth time has spoken of her joy after giving birth to a healthy girl.
Amy Newton, 28, began trying for a baby with her husband Michael, 30, in 2010 but almost gave up on having a family after she suffered five miscarriages in just 12 months.
She was thrilled when she fell pregnant for a sixth time last November but was left devastated when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer just nine weeks later.
Doctors advised her to terminate the pregnancy in order to undergo chemotherapy but she refused and she became one of only three British women ever to have cancer surgery while pregnant.
She was told her unborn child had a 50 per cent chance of success and in January she underwent a five-hour operation at Nottingham City Hospital where surgeons removed part of her cervix.
The surgery was successful and Amy was given the all clear earlier this year and was told the procedure had not harmed the baby.
And she was delighted when she gave birth to baby daughter Ruby on July 18.
Amy, a prison warden, said: “I’d just had a smear in November last year, and three days later I found out I was pregnant again.
“But then the smear results came back and said there was a significant change in my cells, and that I needed to go for a colposcopy which is an internal exam.
“I just thought ‘now I’m not going to be able to keep this baby, either’. I was eight weeks pregnant by this stage and I was scared.
“Then we got the worst news after the examination, which was that I had cervical cancer.
“I was nine weeks pregnant. Initially I was told I had to terminate the pregnancy and treat my cancer.
“We had got so far this time and now we were losing our chance again. It was devastating.
“A week after I found out about the cancer we had another appointment with our consultant who told us he thought he could operate on me while I was pregnant.”
The operation was a first for Nottingham’s hospitals and the consultant who performed the surgery, Jafaru Abu, had never carried it out on a pregnant woman.
Amy was kept in hospital for just a week after the operation to be closely monitored before praying her baby would survive until its due date.
She added: “I left the hospital with the hope that my baby would survive and knowing how rare the operation was.
“I was told all the cancer had been removed and it hadn’t affected the baby.
“But the doctors had removed a lot of my cervix so there was a very real chance that my body might not be able to support the baby.
“We never let ourselves believe that our baby would survive, until she was born on July 18.
“She is our little miracle and we think our consultant is an absolute God.
“The pregnancy was the most stressful time of both our lives but I feel so very lucky to have my daughter now. She’s perfect. We’re so lucky.”
Mr Abu, a consultant gynaecological oncologist at the hospital, said it was an extremely difficult procedure.
He said: “Essentially Amy’s case was very unique.
“I put the options to her initially which were to carry out a radical hysterectomy, removing the whole uterus and the neck of the womb, terminating the pregnancy too.
“But then I went away and did a review of similar cases and found the operation had been performed on a pregnant woman twice before without terminating the pregnancy, once in Liverpool.
“I told Amy there would be a 50/50 chance that the baby would live. She decided to take the risk.
“I removed the neck of the womb and used keyhole surgery to remove the lymph gland in the pelvis. It was very challenging and nerve-wracking but went smoothly.
“When I tell my colleagues about the operation they are all amazed. But now I’ve done it once, I think I would do it again.”
After going through the nerve-wracking rollercoaster, Amy wants to encourage as many young women as possible to go for smear tests.
She added: “I want to tell all young women to go and have a smear.
“If I hadn’t had them, I wouldn’t have known about my cancer and I wouldn’t have Ruby.
“For a two minute smear, it is all worth it, because often cervical cancer has no symptoms.
“It is very important that young women get smear tests – very, very important.”