‘Miracle’ as cancer survivor, 25, told she couldn’t have children gives birth to baby girl
- Credit: CHANEL JOSEPH
A young mum struck down by thyroid cancer at 19 has told of the “miraculous moment” she found out she was pregnant - after years of being warned she would never have children.
Chanel Joseph, from Chantry, was even put into false menopause due to problems with her ovaries - and told she would need to try and conceive naturally for another year before she could be referred to a fertility clinic.
Now 25, the former Suffolk One student was dealt a crushing blow when she was told she had thyroid cancer in 2016.
The devastating diagnosis came just months after medics discovered a non-cancerous pituitary tumour - and followed years of battling painful periods caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Facing hormone problems from three separate conditions, doctors warned she may never fall pregnant naturally.
“With all three of them together, doctors couldn’t be certain I would ever fall pregnant,” she said.
“My partner and I tried for three years, and I never even had an inkling I was pregnant, nothing ever happened.”
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But in December last year Miss Joseph’s thyroid hormone levels, checked every three months, were really high - and doctors recommended she take a pregnancy test to rule it out.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I took a test, and the first one was inconclusive.
"I was reluctant to do another one, because I was adamant I couldn’t be pregnant.
“And then, miraculously, the test said I was pregnant.
She added: “It was one of the best moments of my life. I was anxious, because I was worried about my hormone levels after everything we’ve been through.
“It was really overwhelming, but I was so happy.”
On Wednesday, Miss Joseph’s dream of becoming a mum finally came true - with her and partner Dominic Armstrong now parents to baby Alayah-Rae, who is six days old.
Now fully recovered from thyroid cancer, Miss Joseph was given the all-clear in September 2017.
She was just 19 when diagnosed after a lump appeared in her throat following a gastroscopy - where a camera is used to look down your oesophagus - for another illness.
While all of her friends were enjoying holidays and having children, Miss Joseph said she was forced to isolate - after having her entire thyroid removed, she underwent gruelling radioiodine therapy to eradicate remaining cancer cells.
“I had to isolate, because the treatment meant I was radioactive. I couldn't see anyone or go out in public - I had to stay indoors,” she said.
“There were little things, like I couldn’t touch the same door handles as my family - it was quite invasive.”
However, after a few more check-ups, she discovered the treatment had zapped all of the cancer cells.
The 25-year-old said: “I was strong, because I had an amazing family around me.
“I wanted to stay positive, but it was very hard because I was so young - all my friends were going on holidays and having children, and I was in hospital with cancer.
“Sometimes it did really get to me because I just wanted to be like everyone else and get on with my life.
She added: “Even now I have to take medication every day to keep me alive. You can’t live without a thyroid.
“It’s still a reminder of what I’ve been through. I was left with a scar on my neck, and it was also hard to come to terms with seeing that.”
Having been through so much in her young life, the new mum is now warning people - no matter how old they are - to trust their body and check it regularly for unusual lumps or symptoms.
“Checking your body is the main thing I want to get across, the doctors actually told me initially that my cancer was tonsillitis,” she added.
“I was adamant - I knew something wasn’t right with my body, I went to the hospital, and it came back as cancer. It doesn’t matter how old you are.
“I have now started to see the positive side of cancer - sometimes, people beat it.”
For further help and advice, visit the NHS website.