Experiencing a traumatic event like cancer can make it challenging to envision a positive future. Shelly Battista, a resident of Arlington Heights, Illinois, felt that motherhood was her calling. However, after delivering her first daughter, she detected a lump in her breast while nursing.
Although she assumed it was a blocked duct, Shelly was stunned to discover that it was actually triple-negative breast cancer.
Despite having no history of cancer in her family, Shelly carried the BRCA1 gene mutation, which raised her risk of certain cancers. In February 2020, she started chemotherapy and underwent a double mastectomy. The therapy was successful, and she was declared cancer-free in December of the same year.
However, the cancer treatments damaged Shelly’s ovaries so severely that they had to be removed. Dr. Kara Goldman at Northwestern Medicine Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine assisted her in preserving embryos for future use, which was a silver lining.
“There’s a tremendous misconception that you have to have ovaries in order to carry a pregnancy, but actually, the ovaries and uterus function quite separately from each other,” Dr. Goldman clarified.
A year after being declared cancer-free, Shelly returned to Dr. Goldman to start trying for a baby using the preserved embryos. The first two embryo transfers failed, but on the third attempt, Shelly became pregnant!
“We didn’t want to get our hopes up too high, right?” Shelly recalled. “So, when we got the phone call from Dr. Goldman — she called us herself, we were very, very ecstatic.”
To Shelly’s surprise, the ultrasound revealed not one, but two babies!
Incredibly, Shelly’s twin daughters were born on the same day she was declared cancer-free two years earlier. “I always wanted at least three kids, so this was amazing,” said the delighted mom.
Shelly’s journey has come full circle in just two years. While receiving the cancer diagnosis was undoubtedly devastating, Shelly persevered and experienced something beautiful.