Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Shining Sunlight Found in Dark Places

'That Poor Life Inside Me . . . 

that poor life inside my sick body'

By Debbie Schipp
NZ Herald

It was May, and Elle Halliwell, thoughts dulled by a haze of shock that Xanax could not silence, was reeling.  Two days after being told she had leukaemia, she had found out she was pregnant.  And doctors had given her a seemingly impossible choice: abort the baby and start treatment, or risk her life. . . .

Looking back on that mind-numbingly dreadful May, Elle tells of struggle to make sense of being told you have a death sentence, as well as the baby you have dreamt of.  "I just instantly thought this will kill me.  Knowing that it had invaded every kind of area of your body, a blood cancer, felt so fatal.  I just thought, that poor life inside me living in this sick body. I thought it had no hope anyway." . . .

Elle has ridden a wave of emotion since being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia - a disease most commonly found in men in their 60s.  It's considered one of the more devastating forms of blood cancer.  Doctors warned Elle and her husband, Nick Biasotto, their advice was to abort so she could begin treatment immediately on a new form of chemotherapy with a high survival rate.

Abort the baby, freeze some eggs and perhaps, after five years, if the caner treatment went well, they could try again. . . .  Instead they started researching, got a second opinion, found a specialist, and found there was a possibility taking older drugs might see them through the pregnancy. Other women had managed it. But it was a choice fraught with danger.  "He gave us so much confidence ... to go along with the pregnancy," Elle says.

But new drug advancements mean many sufferers live long lives - it's just that Elle can't start taking those drugs until her baby is born.  Now, as the birth looms, Elle's health is by no means in the clear, but the couple is filled with optimism. . . . And then, Elle can begin to treat her cancer aggressively.

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