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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Nadia Breen

NI woman on having two 'miracle' babies after cervical cancer battle

An NI woman has told how she now has two 'miracle' children after her cervical cancer battle.

On Cervical Screening Awareness Week, which runs from June 19-24, Co Antrim woman Katrina Duddy is sharing her story.

In December 2007, when she was 30-years-old, the Glenavy woman was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer.

Read more: NI dad opens up to raise awareness after young son diagnosed with leukaemia

Katrina and her husband now have two children - an eight-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son.

The 45-year-old opened up to Belfast Live about her diagnosis and becoming a mother.

She said: "I turned 30, and a few days after my 30th birthday I got phone call from my doctor to say that abnormal cells had appeared on my recent smear and that I was going to need some more tests done.

"I didn't panic, I wasn't concerned, I had absolutely no qualms at all as I had lots of friends and colleagues who had all had abnormal smears, so I never thought anything of it.

"Over a few months, I had lots of tests, MRIs etc, and then I got a phone call to say, 'Can you come in for your results and can you bring somebody with you?'

"I knew then, 'Ok, this can't be good'."

Katrina then went into hospital and received her diagnosis.

She added: "I was told that more likely than not my treatment would be all surgical.

"Approximately five weeks later I had my first surgery."

Katrina continued: "Because of my age and my diagnosis, I was still somebody who was not married and wanted to go on to have children. They recommended to me that I had this pioneering treatment.

"If I was diagnosed five years previously, I would have had a hysterectomy, but there was this pioneering treatment - it was called a radical trachelectomy.

"There had only been a small number [carried out] in Northern Ireland.

"It was put to me, that 'would you be prepared to do this treatment. It means that we still give you a chance of having children'.

"Albeit the percentage for me to get pregnant at all was extremely small, and then the percentage chance to carry a baby full term was basically next to nothing.

"Very few women across the world had had this surgery.

"Such little data had been collected on it."

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust say a radical trachelectomy removes the cervix, the tissue around the womb and part of the upper vagina.

The Glenavy woman continued: "I had my treatment. I had multiple surgeries...

"I had more surgery, and then I had more surgery and more surgery, and I went into remission.

"I have been cancer free since but I have been closely monitored by my clinical team at Belfast City Hospital [who] are excellent. I am monitored twice a year every year."

Katrina added: "I probably spent the guts of about nine or ten months after being diagnosed trying to get better and trying to get back to work, that's when the real challenge started.

"I ended up with a long term mobility condition and some other problems just as a result of having so many surgeries."

Katrina spent the next six years trying to get pregnant, including having fertility treatment twice, which failed.

The Co Antrim woman explained how she "gave up" and "decided that was enough".

"I was fine with my decision. I decided I was going to be the best aunty in the world and I put the prospect of being a mother behind me.

"My husband and I came to terms with the fact that I would not be a mother."

In 2014, Katrina decided to book a big holiday with her husband to the US.

She said: "Three weeks before I was due to fly out, I found out I was pregnant naturally.

"Much to the amazement of my clinical team and my oncology team I had conceived naturally. I went on then to have my daughter, albeit ten weeks early, and then three years later I had a second miracle and got pregnant naturally with my son.

"He came five weeks early."

Katrina says when she had found out she was pregnant, although she was 'delighted and amazed', she also felt 'overwhelmed and terrified'.

"Just couldn't believe that it took me to finally give up and accept that I wasn't going to be a mother, and then this miracle just landed on my lap."

She says she now has "two miracle babies" and has "never looked back."

Katrina continued: "I have the best clinical team in the Belfast City Hospital and oncology team. They've looked after me, I have been monitored every year by the hospital. They are excellent, particularly during my two pregnancies."

The Co Antrim woman first opened up on her story in the past few years, telling Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust about her journey in order to give hope to others.

"I had always known about Jo's Trust and I had frequently looked up their website, but I had never gave them my story.

"A couple of years ago, then I decided, 'No, do you know what? I actually am going to share my story' because, one, if it could help other women who were in the same predicament that I found myself in, and then two, to give hope to those women who find themselves being told that they are more likely than not [going] to have children, but my story, I did go on to have two children," she said.

Katrina added: "My story turned out well. I put my story to Jo's Trust to give some hope to those women who were sitting like me all those years ago."

Speaking on Cervical Screening Awareness Week, the Co Antrim woman told: "It is essential to your quality of life to have your smear done.

"It saved my life.

"My staging very easily could have been stage 4."

You can find out more about Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust HERE.

For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here and sign up to our Be lifestyle newsletter.

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