Baby after cca

 A world first – baby after clear cell adenocarcinoma

By Y.J.

A lot has happened to us as a family in the past 12 months and I felt I had to share with you something marvellous that has removed the despair we felt for 6 years.

I felt so depressed when I read in DESPATCH the plight and confusion being expressed by so many.

If there is some way this story can be related to the girls who have written, I hope it will give them fresh hope.

I had stilboestrol in December 1956 and I gave birth to my daughter 7 weeks prematurely in May 1957. She was only 3 lbs but healthy and slowly she gained weight and was normal weight at 12 months.

She had a happy childhood and was married in May 1979

In November 1980 the bottom fell out of our world when she was diagnosed as a clear cell adenocarcinoma victim of stiIboestroI. Immediate surgery was necessary but two different professors had totally different approaches to the problem – one wanted to do a complete hysterectomy with radiotherapy, thereby removing any hope of reproduction; the other, a brilliant man, had a whole new attitude and technique. He totally removed her vagina and part of the cervix, preserved the womb and the ovaries, then rebuilt the vagina from skin from her own leg.

This was a slow, painful (mentally and physically) procedure for the skin grafted from her leg had to grow on the inside of her body over a plastic mould that had been inserted to shape the new vagina. She was told that if the graft did not "take" they would repeat the procedure with skin taken from the other leg. Thankfully this was not necessary. After going home from hospital 3 weeks later, she still had to wear the mould for several hours each day until the vagina had sufficient strength and resilience to function on its own

She was back and forth to Westmead Hospital for months and years, but was getting good reports each time she went.

Doctors shook their heads when she asked about the possibility of having a baby -they didn't know -this type of surgery had not been done before. She had gone through some of the fertility programs that are available and was about to become involved in the IVF program when she became pregnant quite normally. 

It was very subdued joy, however, as doctors said she would have great difficulty in carrying the child; and so we prayed that God in His mercy might give her womb the strength to carry that precious foetus. We expected she might have to spend weeks in bed but that was not necessary and it seems that perhaps the adhesions from the surgery might have worked for her and given strength to the weak cervix

On 26th April this year she gave birth by caesarean section to a beautiful baby boy and although he was 5 weeks premature he was 5.5 Ibs and didn't need a humidicrib although he was in a special care nursery for a week.

Can you imagine our delight and gratitude?

She has since had another cancer check and has been declared cured after 7 years.

The doctor who performed the surgery has sincereturned to England -he wrote to her "Congratulations, this has to be a world first!"

My reason for telling this story is to encourage the girls whose story in part has been told in DES Forum , to seek medical help and advice from a Cancer Clinic at a large Public Hospital and not stop with the GP who in many cases is uninformed, unsympathetic and ill equipped to advise or help.

I cannot speak too highly of the doctors we were put in touch with -my daughter had the critical care she desperately needed and the doctor who did the surgery is delighted that his new techniques worked so wonderfully.

This must be a stepping stone for future surgery and future hope for DES victims.