Family

Mother’s heartbreaking decision to save herself or her unborn baby

The Australian mum to be received her pregnancy news just hours after being diagnosed with cancer.
Elle Halliwell

Elle Halliwell

An Australian journalist has spoken about the moment she had to decide between saving her own life, or that of her unborn child.

In an interview with 60 minutes, Elle Halliwell revealed how the news she was pregnant with her first child was blighted by discovering she had a rare form of blood cancer – just 48 hours before.

The writer from Sydney described how she threw the pregnancy test across the room, as she reflected on how the poor life inside her would ever survive.

Elle was told she had Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML), a cancer that currently has no cure, earlier this year – after undergoing tests in anticipation for trying for her first baby.

But after taking a pregnancy test two days after her diagnosis, Elle was heartbroken to find she was expecting.

“I picked it [the positive pregnancy test] up, threw it across the room and swore,” she told the programme.

“That poor life inside me living in this sick body. I thought it had no hope.”

To add insult to injury, the drug used to treat CML, Interferon, can’t be taken while pregnant, so Elle was faced with a terrible decision – terminate and fight, or keep the baby and risk death.

Doctors urged her to terminate her pregnancy, but Elle was determined to keep her child.

“I thought about dying and it didn’t scare me as much as I thought it would,” she said.

“I kind of thought I’ve lived a really great life and I’m bringing life into the world now and if all goes well, and if it doesn’t I’ve done my best and it’s not meant to be.”

Elle says she feels lucky that she doesn’t feel unwell with her cancer, even though she knows she’s sick. But this, she says, comes with its own challenges.

“One of the biggest challenges is reconciling the fact that I feel healthy, but am far from it.”

Along with the support of her doctor, Elle has decided to carry her baby to full term, after which she will start treatment for cancer.

Related stories


Get your favourite magazines home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.