Cervical Cancer – how screening saved a life and gave them twins!

I first met Kayleigh and Rory in 2016 when we photographed their beautiful wedding. We had such an amazing day and it remains one that will stick in my mind because of the amazing two people they are and their lovely friends and family!

When we heard that Kayleigh had been diagnosed with Cervical Cancer, we were devastated for them! Kayleigh was in her mid twenties and a routine smear had picked up abnormal cells, followed by a Colposcopy, which revealed a cyst-looking lump, which was later diagnosed as stage 1b1 Adenocarcinoma Cancer of the Cervix.

Kayleigh & Rory had literally been married a month and soon after returning from honeymoon, Kayleigh was diagnosed. After an MRI Kayleigh had a lletz procedure done, where they tried to get rid of the whole tumour and sent it off for biopsy. Unfortunately, the margins weren’t big enough and she was told due to this, and the stage of the Cancer, her options were a either a Hysterectomy, which obviously would have meant they wouldn’t be able to have children, or due to her age and the fact they wanted a family, she could have a Radical Trachalectomy (removal of the entire cervix), which would give her more of a chance of having children. The couple opted for this and had the surgery on 28th October 2016.

The procedures worked and Kayleigh was confirmed Cancer free on 23rd November 2016, thanks to the amazing Dr Drake and his team.

The couple were warned that many women have to go on to have IVF following the procedure. They said that most people diagnosed with this Cancer are older, so this could be a factor in having to have IVF, but as the surgery is quite new, there weren’t really any statistics for somebody of her age. Kayleigh & Rory suffered a miscarriage in January 2018, but just 2 months later, in March they were over the moon when they discovered they were pregnant with twins!
Kayleigh told me that her consultant, Mr Drake, was amazing! “Once I had told him at one of my 3 month Cancer check ups, he ensured that the neonatal consultant and twin midwife knew all about me and my history, and got them to keep him up to date with everything. I was his first patient to have twins following this procedure and for all he is aware, possibly the first in the country”.
Their world was changed for the better on 10th December 2018 when Ellis was born at 9.51am weighing 6lb 14.5oz and Erin was born at 9.52am weighing 5lb 5oz, by planned c-section at 37+3 weeks. Kayleigh told me that nobody, including herself, expected she would reach this date and thought she would go in to early labour, but it was amazing that she didn’t and her pregnancy went as planned. It had been a whirlwind 2 years, but the twins arrived healthy and perfect, making their world complete.
Day three in hospital (when the couple were due to go home), her Cancer consultant (Mr Drake) came to their room to meet the twins. It was a lovely moment for them all and none of it would have been possible if it wasn’t for him. Kayleigh used their private healthcare for the treatment, but the consultant would have been the same if they had waited for the NHS date anyway. Everything before the surgery was NHS and Kayleigh commented how amazing they were! “I have heard Cancer treatment on the NHS is brilliant and I can definitely second that”.
Kayleigh & Rory’s story is one which has touched me so much – I literally couldn’t wait to go and meet their miracle babies and hug them all for being so brave and incredible! However, the reason for writing about Kayleigh’s story is not just one about success, it’s also important to talk about prevention!  If Kayleigh hadn’t attended her smear test when she did, she may not be here today or not have been able to have the treatment she did, which saved her fertility. Thousands of women a year, of all ages will die from a potentially preventable disease, and this screening is available to us all on the NHS. It may be a little uncomfortable, but nothing in comparison to the consequences of not having it.
Kayleigh also wanted me to say that Macmillan was also a great support during the process and Jo’s Cervical Cancer trust was a great source of information.
I had an amazing twin newborn session with them, which was so generously given to them by their best friends as a voucher. We had so much fun and they are amazing babies! I am so happy for this wonderful family and am looking forward to keeping in touch with them as they grow!
Here’s just a few of the images I created for them, including a special “tree of life” as a tribute to their story!
Rachel x