A woman has given birth to a "miracle" baby boy after having her ovaries removed as part of life-saving cancer treatment.
Stacey Broadmeadow, 38, was shocked to discover she had a million-to-one rare cancer but even more terrified at the thought it would rob her of her chance of motherhood. Now, thanks to experts at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, Ms Broadmeadow is clear of deadly cancer and managed to freeze her eggs, which led to the birth of baby Harry. He was born against the odds after just two embryos were deemed good enough for IVF treatment and the first fertility attempt ended in miscarriage.
In an interview with the PA news agency, Ms Broadmeadow, from Stockport in Greater Manchester, said: "Harry has always been wanted.
"Ever since I was little I've always wanted a baby. He is just wonderful!"
Diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei
Ms Broadmeadow first began to feel poorly in 2017 when she felt a sharp pain near her appendix. This was followed by spotting in between her periods, which prompted her to contact her GP.
She said: "When I had the spotting, I thought 'something doesn't feel right' and usually I wouldn't bother about it but, because I knew in the future I wanted to be a mum, I thought I had better go and get checked out."
A GP ruled out pregnancy and sent Ms Broadmeadow for an ultrasound scan where the radiographer noticed unusual signs. She then underwent a CT scan and blood tests, which included checking for markers for cancer. During further scans, experts noticed fluid in Ms Broadmeadow's womb, leading to an MRI and referral to the Christie. An oncologist suspected Ms Broadmeadow had a very rare cancer called pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP) and warned that she may lose her ovaries.
Ms Broadmeadow said: "I was devastated, absolutely devastated. I literally just thought, 'Well, that’s it. I'm never going to be a mum. I'm never going to have the dream that I’ve always wanted'.
"But luckily, my consultant was very positive and kind of gave me hope that she would be able to fix it and the prognosis could be good."
PMP is a very rare form of cancer that starts in the lining of the appendix, where it produces a jelly-like substance which bursts out, spreading cells and mucin around the stomach. Symptoms include a loss of appetite, unexpected weight gain, and stomach pain.
Had Eggs Harvested Between Operations
Ms Broadmeadow underwent initial surgery at the Christie but was told she would also need a second operation to remove her spleen, gallbladder, layers of tissue, fallopian tubes, and both ovaries. This would be followed by putting heated chemotherapy (HIPEC) directly into the abdomen to kill any remaining tumour cells.
Ms Broadmeadow said: "I was very fortunate that in between the two operations, I was able to have my eggs harvested on the NHS.
"I went to St Mary's Hospital (in Manchester) and had two rounds of egg freezing.
"I managed to get 17 eggs, which I’m very, very grateful for.
"I had two rounds of egg harvesting and then I had the second big operation, which was 8 hours long."
Ms Broadmeadow took about 3-4 months to recover from the surgery and was forced to shield through the COVID pandemic to protect her health. Then, in 2021, the process of creating baby Harry began.
She said: "You'd think that 17 eggs would be quite a lot, but it really wasn't.
"They defrosted them and I was left with about eight useable eggs.
"We managed to get four embryos but only two then made it to the next level. So then I only had two embryos.
"One was transferred but unfortunately I miscarried with that one.
"And then the other embryo, which was Harry – they told me that it wasn't the most viable embryo but they put him in the freezer anyway.
"And so, after I'd miscarried, I kind of thought the dream was over, and I was never going to have a baby, but I thought 'well, I've got one last chance, I'll give it a go'."
The final embryo was transferred in February last year and Ms Broadmeadow could hardly believe her luck when she fell pregnant. Harry was born last November.
"He is an absolute miracle," she said. "Every time I look at him, I just think how lucky I am.
"For me to be diagnosed with what I had, and to go through everything that I did, and for him then to be that little embryo that I was told wasn’t the best… I call him my little Nemo.
"In the film, "Finding Nemo", Nemo was the last little egg left. So he’s my little Nemo. He’s my little miracle. He’s just so special."
Ms Broadmeadow, who is on maternity leave from her job as theatre manager at the Palace and Opera House in Manchester, said her life has changed completely since giving birth to Harry.
"My kind of goal in life was my career and I used to work 12, 13, 14 hours a day, most days a week," she said.
"Whereas now, it’s been completely flipped upside down for the better.
"I feel like I'm going to be going on so many adventures with this little dude.
"We’re going to have so much fun. My life is going to be more balanced, it’ll be full of lots of love and happiness."
Ms Broadmeadow’s mother, Susan, is also "in her element".
Ms Broadmeadow said: "She’s already got two grown-up grandchildren, one's 24 and one is 22, so to have another baby in the family is lovely."
Specialist nurse Rebecca Halstead, from the Christie, supported Ms Broadmeadow throughout her fertility treatment. The lead colorectal and peritoneal oncology clinical nurse specialist said: "Being there for patients like Stacey is the reason I do what I do.
"PMP is rare, so many patients remain undiagnosed or receive incorrect and inadequate treatment before they receive the right diagnosis.
"Here at the Christie, we not only have the expertise and technology to treat these patients today, but we’re also doing research that will benefit patients in the future."
This article contains information from PA Media