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Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 16:42 GMT
Unborn twins 'kicked out cancer'
Michelle Stepney and her twins Alice and Harriet
Michelle Stepney's daughters were born healthy
A mother who found she had a tumour while pregnant was saved by her unborn twins' kicking, doctors have said.

Michelle Stepney developed a tumour but was only diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was taken to hospital with a suspected miscarriage.

But doctors found her twins' kicking had dislodged the tumour.

Mrs Stepney, from Cheam, south-west London, refused to undergo chemotherapy and a hysterectomy which would have meant the termination of her twins.

She has been nominated for a Woman of Courage Award by Cancer Research UK.

"I couldn't believe it when the doctors told me that the babies had dislodged the tumour," she said.

I owe my life to my girls, and that's why I could have never agreed with a termination
Michelle Stepney

"I'd felt them kicking but I didn't realise just how important their kicking would turn out to be."

Mrs Stepney, who also had a five-year-old son called Jack, said she opted to have her life-saving operation after the twins were born.

"I owe my life to my girls, and that's why I could have never agreed with a termination," she said.

"It was a very difficult decision to make. We wanted to make sure what we did was right by Jack but we did not want to do what was wrong by the girls."

'Kept me strong'

Doctors at the Royal Marsden Hospital gave Mrs Stepney limited chemotherapy.

The twins, Alice and Harriet, were delivered by caesarean section 33 weeks into the pregnancy.

They were healthy but born without hair because of the cancer treatment.

Mrs Stepney had a hysterectomy four weeks later, and has been given the all-clear.

She said she had relied on the support of her husband Scott, 36.

"I couldn't have got through it without him," she said, adding: "The twins were also a huge support. They kept me strong throughout it all."

  • Cancer Research UK's women-only fundraising event Race for Life - in which women are sponsored to walk, jog or run 5km - takes place between 3 May and 31 July.


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