By Ken Banks
North East Scotland reporter
BBC News website
A mother who turned down chemotherapy for leukaemia because she was pregnant with twins has spoken of her joy on their first birthday.
The twins are healthy boys and turned one on Tuesday
Vanessa Love, 32, was told she had the life-threatening disease just after discovering she was expecting twins.
Her healthy boys Blake and Rohan were born prematurely.
Mrs Love, of Westhill, Aberdeenshire, is now clear of leukaemia and told the BBC Scotland news website: "I cannot believe they are doing so well."
The former medical receptionist found out in October 2004 that she was pregnant, then in January last year she discovered that she was expecting twins.
Just four days later, however, routine tests gave a diagnosis of leukaemia.
Despite the risks to herself, she decided not to have aggressive chemotherapy and instead took remission drugs as she wanted the best for her unborn babies.
At 31 weeks she had to be taken into hospital in Aberdeen with stomach pains and feared the worst.
Blake and Rohan were delivered by Caesarean section on 16 May last year after surgery on a twisted bowel which had caused the pain.
Mrs Love is believed to have made medical history when she gave birth to the identical boys after her selfless act.
Blake was only 3lb 9oz and Rohan, born a minute later, was even smaller at 3lb 5oz.
Blake was born shortly before little brother Rohan
It would be another two months before the twins could go home with Mrs Love and her husband Charlie.
She began chemotherapy to fight the leukaemia after the drugs kept it at bay during her pregnancy. Tests last week confirmed she was clear of the disease.
Blake and Rohan are happy and healthy ginger-haired boys, now weighing 24lb 13oz and 24lb 6oz respectively. They turned one on Tuesday.
Mrs Love said: "I still cannot believe they are doing so well - Blake and Rohan really are a double joy.
"And my treatment has worked.
"Blake was the eldest by a minute and the biggest and he's the more dominant - he likes his food and bath first.
"They are really funny, they have started to notice each other - they talk to each other through their cots and touch hands.
"I think they think they are looking in a mirror as they are identical.
"They were so little but they have more than made up for it now."
She said of her decision to refuse chemotherapy: "We spoke about it, the doctors gave us all the options.
"They did look into chemotherapy while being pregnant, but it wouldn't have been ideal so we just decided to hang on.
"It didn't seem real until I saw the twins."
Husband Charlie said the twins are "great fun"
Mrs Love kept a poignant online diary of her feelings during the pregnancy.
On Friday 13 May last year, just before the birth, she wrote: "I am very frightened by the thought of the chemo.
"As I get closer to delivering the boys and receiving my treatment I get more concerned about the reality of how my family will function without me, how I will feel about leaving all my babies and how effective my treatment will be."
Mrs Love will still undergo checks once a month and will be on tablets for two years.
She is now also heavily involved in a group called Aberdeen Angels, for women under 45 with various types of cancer, and plans to take part in a charity walk.
She said of the birthday milestone: "It will just be us on Tuesday which will be nice, then it will be an open house on Saturday.
"It's strange, a year on this is exactly the point we dreamed of being at."
Husband Charlie, 37, a teacher, said: "They are just such happy wee boys, they are great fun and are always laughing.
"Their birthday draws a line under the whole year - we can get on with life and leave that year of pretty life-changing events behind us.
"Vanessa really is fantastic - a remarkable wife and mother."
The couple also have daughters Megan, five, and six-year-old Amber.
Ken Campbell, of the Leukaemia Research Fund, said: "We are delighted to hear that mum and the boys are doing so well.
"It was a very, very rare situation and it's a story that gives hope to any mum in that situation that it's not the end of the world.
"We send our congratulations to the family and also the medical team who dealt with this unprecedented case."