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My baby saved my life after being born months early – docs said it would’ve been ‘too late’ if she came on time

A NEWBORN baby saved her mum’s life after arriving 12 weeks early when she helped doctors discover a cancerous tumour.

Harriet Elsdon, 32, was told by medics that it ”might have been too late” if she had given birth on her planned due date.

Doctors found a cyst on her right ovary had grown and was cancerous
Harriet and her partner, Nicholas Wilmshurst-Smith and baby Maddison
Maddison was born three months early at just 29 weeks

The mum-of-three now believes her baby saved her life.

Harriet was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after visiting her daughter, Maddison Wilmshurst-Smith, in the ICU at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, Essex.

The cancer, which kills around 11 women in the UK each day, first left Harriet with stomach pains so severe she struggled to walk.

After a scan, doctors found a cyst on her right ovary – which had been initially detected at her 20-week scan but had grown.

The doctors had scheduled in check-up scan for when Harriet, from from Brentwood, Essex, was 29 weeks along but baby Maddison arrived earlier.

During the procedure, they found the cyst had burst and was in fact cancerous.

The mum-of-three, who works as an administrator, had an operation to remove her right ovary and one fallopian tube and started chemotherapy just weeks later.

Now, awaiting her last chemotherapy session, she is looking forward to her medical tribulations coming to an end – just in time for Christmas.

Maddison, who is now 20 weeks-old, was able to come home on September 19, 2022 and weighed a healthy 9lbs 2oz.

Harriet said: “I’m still on antibiotics and blood fillers will be around for another few months, but I feel like I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“It’s been a full-on half a year, but I’m doing okay and I have my baby girl by my side.”

She said: “If Nicholas and I hadn’t been in the hospital visiting Maddison I don’t think I would have bothered being medically checked.”

Harriet and her partner, Nicholas Wilmshurst-Smith, 30, a gas engineer, were expecting their baby to arrive on October 1 2022.

But on July 1, Harriet experienced stomach pains and dialed 111 with the call handler advising she go to hospital immediately.

Within 20 minutes of being in the hospital, Maddison was born naturally at 2.30pm weighing 2lbs 5oz- despite her due date not being until October.

Mum-of-three Harriet said: “After three pushes, she was out.

“It was such a whirlwind experience and she was so tiny when she was born.

“She was passed over to me and Nicholas in plastic wrap before going into the neonatal ward.”

After three days in the hospital, the couple returned home to their two boys, Lincoln, four and Logan, two.

Baby Maddison remained on the neonatal ward while she was treated for a couple of tummy infections and given vitamins for growth .

On the July 7 – five days after giving birth – when visiting the tot at Broomfield Hospital, Harriet decided to get checked out as she was experiencing strong pains in the right side of her stomach.

After having a pelvic ultrasound, medics spotted a mass on her ovary and advised an exploratory procedure.

Harriet said: “After I woke up from the operation they broke the news.

”The moment they said ‘tumour’ and ‘ovarian cancer’, I knew that chemotherapy would be on the cards.

“The doctors said it was my choice to have chemo or just relied on regular CT scans, but I immediately knew I was going to have chemo because I had to stay alive for my children.

“Luckily they were able to remove the tumour and right ovary and the following month I started my chemotherapy.”

Harriet’s first round of chemotherapy began on August 29, with her going every two weeks for sessions.

She added: “Nicholas has been amazing, holding to the fort at home with the boys and with me being in and out of the hospital!

“I luckily haven’t experienced too much hair loss, more thinning than anything.

“My underarm hair has stopped growing which I’m not complaining about- but I wish it was my leg hair instead!

“Chemo isn’t fun but I’ve gotten through it and I can’t wait to have Christmas at home with the family.”

Little Maddison was able to come home on September 19 at 11 weeks old and now weighs a healthy 9lbs 2oz.

She said: “She’s already a demanding baby at only four months but my goodness, she’s completed our family!

“I always think, if I haven’t gone into early labour, I don’t think the tumour would have been caught in time.

“It’s almost like she knew she had to come out,” she explained.

“If she didn’t I’d be looking at stage three or four ovarian cancer.

“Maddison really saved my life- but she won’t hear that from me as she’ll be using it against me when she’s a teenager.

”I was so lucky my cancer got caught when it did and that I’ve had such good treatment.”

Who is most at risk from ovarian cancer?

A number of things can increase your risk from ovarian cancer, including:

  • Age – Women older than 50 have a greater risk
  • Family history – If ovarian or breast cancer runs in the family you could have inherited genes that make you more at risk
  • Weight – If you are overweight you may be more susceptible
  • Conditions – If you have endometriosis, where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb grows outside the womb area, this can increase your chance. If you have had hormone replacement therapy (HRT), there is a very small chance this can increase your risk.

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