Jade Peachey, 32, beat cervical cancer, but as a result was given little hope of starting a family…
“Peter and I had been on a huge emotional rollercoaster even before our daughter Effie had come into our lives. It all started seven years ago, when Peter and I met, we were enjoying getting to know each other. We’d been dating around six months and things were going really well, we’d even been on holiday together. I was 25 at the time, and like all women at that age you received a letter from the doctor asking me to go in for my first smear test. I went and thought nothing of it. But then I got the results back; they weren’t good. This was the moment I found out I had cervical cancer.
“When you are told news like that, it’s hard to know what to think. There’s disbelief, fear, panic, and incomprehension – and these feelings don’t leave you. The rest of that year was indescribable. I was frightened and had no idea what the future held. During the summer I had numerous cancer treatments, but nothing worked. I was losing hope and my consultant and I had a frank conversation. He said I had three options; chemotherapy, a new pioneering fertility preservation operation - Radical Vaginal Trachelectomy - or no treatment at all.
“The team made me very aware that cervical cancer leaves you with little to no chance of having a baby. I was just 25 years old at the time and in a new relationship, I wasn’t thinking of starting a family, but to have that option taken away from me was heart breaking. So I decided to have the operation, it gave me hope that it would preserve my fertility and I would have a baby…eventually.
“Thankfully, to my relief the operation was a success. The cancer was gone! And although the Radical Vaginal Trachelectomy is a method of fertility preservation, it was still on my mind that becoming pregnant, when the time was right, was going to be challenging.
“For the first couple of years after my operation and recovery I remained positive. Peter had stuck by me throughout it all and we enjoyed life as a couple - going out, exploring other countries and taking nothing for granted. But as I approached 30 I noticed a change. I started to become very negative, losing hope that I would ever become pregnant. Friends around me were starting families, and although I didn’t resent them for it, I just so badly wanted to start my own. It had an effect on friendships and family relationships. It hurt me that I couldn’t give my mum a grandchild. My family were on edge around me and I was defensive towards them, it really began to take its toll.
“I wouldn’t be defeated though. I’ve never wanted something so much in my life, I can’t describe the feeling. I yearned for a baby. Peter and I tried for years before eventually deciding to find out about IVF, so we booked an appointment, but then something unbelievable happened…”
Jade’s partner Peter received a call which would change his life forever…
“The news that we were going to be parents came out of the blue, to say the least. My sister called me one day to say she’d been to see a tarot card reader who said her little brother was about to receive some life-changing news – he was going to become dad to a little girl.
“I rushed home to my partner Jade – lately she had been feeling unwell and we thought she just had the flu. After approximately 50 pregnancy tests reality hit us. She was pregnant.
“We were over the moon. Six years previously, Jade was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had to have her cervix removed.
“We were told it would be difficult to get pregnant and for the last five years we had been trying. So you can imagine our pure joy when each test came back positive.
“We were monitored very closely at Addenbrooke’s – where Jade had had her treatment - during pregnancy and were told that our baby could arrive slightly early. But at 27 weeks we got a shock when Jade felt her waters break.
“When we arrived at The Rosie Hospital, Jade was becoming seriously ill. She had a very high temperature which turned out to be suspected sepsis and it felt like our world was crumbling around us. But fortunately, due to the great team at the hospital, they managed to bring Jade’s temperature down and stabilise her.
“Everything happened really quickly. And after a complicated caesarean, they managed to get our baby daughter, Effie, out. All I remember was how that room was so eerily quiet and tense. I kept asking if everything was alright. It wasn’t. Effie had to be resuscitated four times.
“The moment I saw Effie for the first time, I was speechless. I walked over to the table where she lay and no words came out. I had never seen anyone so small. How would I manage to hold my tiny little girl?
“Effie was soon rushed off to NICU for treatment while I comforted Jade. She was crying and begging to see her baby. It wasn’t until five hours later that Jade got the first glimpse of her little girl.
“We were told then that they planned to keep Effie at The Rosie Hospital until what would have been her due date because she was so poorly – but this was 13 weeks away. What would we do? I had my baby daughter in NICU, my partner on the ward, I couldn’t drive and I really, really didn’t want to leave either of them.
“I looked at nearby hotels but they were extortionate. I felt hopeless and was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to support them. But amongst all this fear, a nurse came to me and told me we had been given a room at Chestnut House. I just burst with relief. Chestnut House was located on the ground floor – literally five minutes from where Effie was. Jade and I could go and stay there while Effie got stronger. I didn’t have to leave my family at all; we could all be together and fight this battle as one.
“We stayed at Chestnut House for a month. And during the most stressful time of our lives, the relief of having a ‘Home from Home’ was invaluable. Jade was very ill and Chestnut House gave her a place she could go and rest. Chestnut House became a break away from NICU at some very intense times. NICU was very hot and the bleeping of the machines soon becomes so ingrained in your ears that you struggle to think. I would go to Chestnut House, make a coffee or eat a pizza and enjoy the peace of our ‘Home from Home’ for just half an hour. I felt rested and could return to Effie re-energised.
“Effie soon showed us just what she was made of and at four days old we had our first cuddle. There were tears of joy, but also tears of worry as we were scared for our baby. But as time went on, Effie improved dramatically.
“After four weeks they told us she no longer needed to be at The Rosie Hospital and she could be transferred to Hinchingbrooke Hospital.
“Effie is now is now eight months old and full of life, she’s coming on leaps and bounds. She’s still really small for her age, weighing just 13lbs but the important thing is that for now, she’s showing progress.
“We didn’t know if we would ever get pregnant, and now this year will be our first Christmas with our miracle baby. She’s not just a miracle because of we never thought we’d have one, it’s a miracle she survived the odds set against her.”
Jade wanted to share her story to give other women hope…
“I thought I would never have a baby, never in a million years. But thanks to my amazing care team and the Radical Vaginal Trachelectomy it happened. I got my baby and was able to start my family. Please don’t ever give up, I hope by sharing my story it will give you some hope.”
Jade and Peter, Effie’s parents