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Thread: Woman, 57, thought she had cancer until doctors told her she was 30 weeks pregnant

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Dec 2006

    Default Woman, 57, thought she had cancer until doctors told her she was 30 weeks pregnant

    A woman of 57 with suspected ovarian cancer was in fact expecting her first baby.

    Susan Tollefsen feared the worst when she was sent to hospital for a scan on her growing bump.
    But the sonographer told her: "Congratulations, you're almost 30 weeks pregnant."
    She will become one of Britain's oldest mothers when she has a caesarean section next week.
    The remarkable story, which she describes as an Easter miracle, follows-several years of attempts to have a baby by IVF treatment at foreign clinics.
    Scroll down for more...
    Susan Tollefsen and partner Nick Mayer are both excited and nervous about 'their miracle pregnancy'

    The special needs teacher and her partner Nick Mayer, who is 11 years her junior, thought their final hope had been dashed last August when she suffered what appeared to be a miscarriage.
    Yesterday they told the Mail their remarkable story as MS Tollefsen describes the baby girl she is due to have this Easter as a "miracle".
    Not only is she about to become a first-time mother at the age of 57, but she found out she was pregnant just eight weeks ago.
    Referred to hospital as an emergency after a physical examination by a private GP had revealed a "hard abdominal mass", she had been bracing herself for the worst.
    Clutching a paper with the suspected diagnosis "Ovarian Cancer?????" on it, she burst into tears as she waited for a scan.
    "I was lying on the examination table thinking, 'I'm going to die' when the sonographer turned round to me and said 'Congratulations'," says Susan.
    "My initial reaction was to think, 'What a terrible way to tell me I've got ovarian cancer'. When he then said, 'You're pregnant' I was literally speechless.
    "I still couldn't believe it when he showed me the screen and said, 'Here's the head, here are the arms and here are the legs'. I was even more shocked when they told me I was almost 30 weeks gone."
    The astonishing news was given to her at the private Nuffield Hospital in Brentwood, Essex.
    Susan adds: "While I'd been waiting for the scan I'd phoned Nick at work in tears and said, 'You'd better get over here, they think I've got ovarian cancer'.
    "When he arrived after the scan I had to say to him, 'Sit down while I make you a coffee. You are going to need it. I'm pregnant.'
    "First he was stunned and then he burst into tears. He was thrilled. It was the very last thing we'd both been expecting."

    The pregnancy, confirmed on January 24, is the result of Susan and Nick's third and last attempt to become parents through IVF treatment using donor eggs.
    When Susan started haemorrhaging within four weeks of two fertilised embryos being implanted at a Russian fertility clinic, she went to her GP who, she says, told her she had miscarried.
    A blood test and a home pregnancy test appeared to confirm this by showing negative.
    Although she carried on bleeding heavily - which eventually led her to believe she was seriously ill rather than pregnant - she now believes she miscarried one of twins while the other managed to survive.
    Today, the couple's home in Romford is filled with baby paraphernalia and an air of nervous excitement as they count off the last few days to next week's elective caesarean which will bring their daughter - already named Freya - into the world.
    There are, of course, the obvious concerns about Susan becoming a mother at such an advanced age but the couple's greater worry is for Freya's health, given the problematic pregnancy.
    "We are terribly excited about having our first baby but also very nervous about whether she will be all right," says Susan, who has worked in education since 1975, first as a special-needs teacher and then as an adviser on behavioural issues.
    "All the scans have shown that she is developing normally but we won't know for sure until she is born.
    "In the first few months of the pregnancy we went through some very stressful times. Our house flooded and the ceilings fell down, so there was a lot of heavy physical work.
    "I was eating whatever I wanted and taking strong painkillers for my bad back.
    "I was prescribed antibiotics when I went down with a chest infection and also progesterone, because I was bleeding heavily and the doctor thought it would correct over-production of oestrogen caused by the IVF treatment.

    "So of course when I found out I was pregnant my first thought was, 'Is the baby going to be OK?'
    "When I asked the doctors what would happen if there was something seriously wrong with her, I was told, 'Well it's too late now. You are 30 weeks pregnant. You'll have to go through the birth and then decide if you want her adopted if she is disabled.'
    "That is a very frightening thing to be told and I was particularly worried by the prescription drugs I'd taken during the early months.
    "But the doctors didn't seem too worried and we are just hoping the scans, which indicate she is normal, are right.
    "Nature never ceases to amaze me. I'm astounded that Freya survived all the things that were happening in my life. It must have been meant to be."
    London-born Susan, daughter of an English mother and Norwegian father, says she always dreamed of having children but circumstances conspired against it.
    Her four-year marriage to Bruno, an Italian restaurateur, ended in divorce in 1984 before they had even had a chance to think about children.
    She claims he left her for a 17-year-old girl who worked in their restaurant as a kitchen assistant.
    She retreated devastated to her parents' home, thinking she would never meet anyone else. Her father Sigurdavind and mother Gladys both suffered failing health and she became their carers.
    Her father died in 1986 after a two-year battle with liver cancer and her mother in 2002, having suffered for years with emphysema and osteoporosis.
    By this time Susan and Nick were together, having met on a blind date in 1998.
    It was only after her mother died that Susan's thoughts turned to children. This was something she had discussed with Nick soon after they met but then it had been nothing more than a wistful longing. Now, it became a yearning.
    "When Nick and I first met we both thought, 'How sad that we met at the wrong time.' I was 47, 11 years older than him, and I thought it would be impossible for me to have children at my age, but the reality was my mother needed a lot of care and I couldn't have coped with looking after her and a baby.
    "I remember once when we went on holiday together to the Maldives, there was a couple staying at our hotel who had a little girl running around with them.
    "They looked such a happy family and I said to Nick, 'Wouldn't it be nice if we could have had a child together?'."
    After her mother died, Susan started to wonder if motherhood might still be a possibility through IVF, using donor eggs. Nick was as keen as she was to investigate further.
    There is no absolute age limit for IVF in Britain, but the NHS will not fund it for women over 40.

    In practice most private fertility clinics in the UK will not treat women over 50 - the average age of the menopause when they stop producing eggs.
    In 2006, Patricia Rashbrook became Britain's oldest mother at the age of 62 through fertility treatment in Russia - after being rejected for IVF in Britain.
    And in January last year following fertility treatment, 67-year-old Romanian Adriana Iliescu became the world's oldest mother after giving birth to twin girls, one of whom survived.
    Susan continues: "I contacted fertility clinics in Britain but all of them refused to treat me because of my age. But there are no such age limits in some foreign clinics.
    "We did spend a lot of time talking it through. I felt incredibly healthy and people say I look and act younger than my age, so I felt sure I could cope.
    "I have spent my whole life working with children, so I felt very comfortable about my ability to be a good mother.
    "Two relatives of mine in Norway had children in their late 40s and I could see that other women of my age had successfully given birth.
    "Also I knew that, even if something happened to me, Nick being 11 years younger would be around for any child of ours and I had a lot of support from my family, offering to help in the worst-case scenario.
    "People ask, 'How will you cope with the broken nights at your age?'. But for 20 years I cared for my parents, which often involved getting up in the night to help them. Broken nights don't worry me at all.
    "All my friends and colleagues have been so supportive, although when I first told one of them I was met with complete silence because she had dropped the phone."
    Susan and Nick travelled to Russia, then Poland, then back to Russia, spending a total of £15,000 on fertility treatment.
    They had decided that their third attempt would be their last, and should it fail they would simply get on with their lives.
    "Four weeks after the embryos were implanted last July I was convinced I had miscarried," says Susan.
    "I was bleeding heavily and all the tests came back negative. When I carried on bleeding my GP referred me to a gynaecologist, who said all the signs were I'd miscarried and that the bleeding might be corrected by taking progesterone.
    "But as the weeks went on I started to feel more and more ill. I was still bleeding and felt incredibly tired all the time.
    "When I walked up the stairs I felt breathless and one day I stayed in bed sleeping from 9am to 4pm which just wasn't like me at all.
    "I never suffered from any morning sickness, but I went off my food and I lost a stone and a half in a matter of weeks even though my stomach was swollen.
    "Looking back it's easy to see why, but I'd never been pregnant before so I didn't know what it was supposed to feel like. And don't forget I'd been told I'd miscarried."

    One day in January Susan felt so ill she rang her GP. Unable to get an NHS appointment for five weeks, because they were so busy, she booked an appointment with a private GP.
    Convinced she was seriously ill, she did not even tell him she had undergone IVF because she was convinced she had miscarried.
    "When he examined me he said, 'You definitely have a hard abdominal mass' but because of my age and because I hadn't told him I'd had IVF, he was worried it could be ovarian cancer and immediately referred me to the Nuffield. I was absolutely terrified.
    "They call ovarian cancer the silent killer because often there are no symptoms, but I had a large swelling and was bleeding so I was convinced that not only did I have it, but that it was so advanced that there would be nothing they could do for me."
    Nick, a warehouse manager at the Lakeside shopping centre, was at work when Susan called him with the devastating news. "I simply said to my staff 'I've got to go' and leapt in the car," he recalls.
    "It was the longest journey of my life and I was terrified for Susan. The last thing I was expecting her to say when I arrived was that she was pregnant."
    Susan adds: "When my private GP found out the real reason for the abdominal mass, he wrote a letter to my gynaecologist, who said the next time I saw him, 'I don't know how I missed that!' I still feel a bit angry that I wasn't physically examined or given a scan sooner, even though the pregnancy test was negative."
    Since then Susan has been closely monitored, undergoing scans every couple of weeks to make sure Freya has been meeting her growth targets. It still all feels rather surreal, she says.
    "Most women have nine months of pregnancy to adjust to the prospect of motherhood, but I've had six weeks. When I turned up for my first ante-natal class the receptionist joked, "You are a bit late - you should have been here months ago".
    "I am very much aware that I am the oldest person in the antenatal classes, but I am very upfront and honest about it.

    "When other women ask me how many children I have, I say, 'This is the first and, before you ask, I'm 57.'
    "I just feel incredibly excited. I know that when Freya is ten I'll be 67 and I do wonder how she will feel about that, but we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.
    "Besides, I think there are advantages to being an older mother. You are more patient, wiser and having worked with them all my life, I have experience of children which means motherhood won't come as such a shock.
    "All I want as a mother is for Freya to grow up with lots of love, just like I grew up loved by my own parents.
    "I want to encourage her to do as well as she can do, to be happy and healthy and to grow up with the right moral values.
    "I remember my mother once saying to me when I was about 45, 'You know, Susan, you have some lovely things to leave your children'.
    "I said, 'Hang on, I haven't even met anyone yet and I'm probably already too old'.
    "Until I met Nick I really thought I would end up on my own.
    "I still can't quite believe it is all happening. To become a mother at my age and have the family I always wanted is, for me, a complete miracle." • Additional reporting: Beth Hale

    Woman, 57, thought she had cancer until doctors told her she was 30 weeks pregnant | the Daily Mail

  2. #2
    Elite Member yanna's Avatar
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    Jun 2006


    Aww, they look adorable. I really hope everything will go well.

  3. #3
    smf is offline
    Gold Member smf's Avatar
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    Sep 2007


    57 !!!!! holy shit ,i hope it all works out for them to

  4. #4
    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    Out There


    Surely you'd feel the child move by 30 weeks preggo and know it wasn't a tumor . . . right?
    “What are you looking at, sugar-tits?” - Mel Gibson

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    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
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    Oct 2005


    I'm not sure where to start with this one....IVF and being 57....and all that.

  6. #6
    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    Feb 2006
    in a van down by the river


    why are women as old as grandmothers having babies! i'm sorry i cant get past that. i just hope she's still alive when the baby is 10
    Basic rule of Gossip Rocks: Don't be a dick.Tati
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  7. #7
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Feb 2007


    Docs told same thing to my grandmother years ago.

    50 years later and my mom's sisters and brothers still call their youngest sister "The Tumor"

    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.

    If I wanted the government in my womb I'd fuck a Senator

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    Elite Member FierceKiten's Avatar
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    The Neverlands


    Lucky them, I dont think just because 40,50 you shouldnt be thinking about pregnancy. Yes there are complications physical, mentally; etc. By the time their teenagers, your near dead but they wanted a baby, shes alive and well with her husbands support.
    Im ashamed to say what I did for a klondike bar...

  9. #9
    Hit By Ban Bus!
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    I hope she is a vigorous 57. She's gonna need a lot of energy. I'm 21 and my step-sister's 2-year old son runs me completely ragged. Babies/toddlers keep you on your toes, lol.

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    Elite Member louiswinthorpe111's Avatar
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    Ok, how stupid is she? She's going through IVF, has a miscarriage in August and it never occurs to her that she's pregnant? She's got bigger problems than being 57 and pregnant.
    RELIGION: Treat it like it's your genitalia. Don't show it off in public, and don't shove it down your children's throats.

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    Gold Member WitchHazelEyed's Avatar
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    Dec 2006
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    I imagine it would have been much harder for her to die without ever having had a child (if that is what she truly wanted) than for her to have the child and have to "run around after the baby". It's her life and if having a child makes her happy and she has someone who loves her enough to make a child with her knowing that he may end up raising the child alone at some point, than that's wonderful. I wish them well.

    I guess that people over the age of 50 shouldn't be babysitting or working in the daycare industry either, huh?
    Now logic is a wonderful thing but it has, as the processes of evolution discovered, certain drawbacks. Anything that thinks logically can be fooled by something else which thinks at least as logically as it does. - Douglas Adams

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    Elite Member Sarzy's Avatar
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    I think it's wrong having a baby at that age. She'll be nearly 70 when the child is 10! I think a child needs it's parents around as long as possible. I know people can die at any age, but to deliberately start out with such a disadvantage, such as her age, is wrong, in my opinion.

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    Elite Member suede's Avatar
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    Oct 2005


    I don't even have the words for idiocy of this situation.

    I'm not sure what's worse the health care or a grown woman so unaware of her own body.
    He who knows does not speak.
    He who speaks does not know.

  14. #14
    Elite Member effie2's Avatar
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    Where it all begun


    Women get menopausal for a reason,its the nature's way to say defy it,you pay..
    The child is the victim,lets face it,kids need strong parents to look after them,not physical and emotional wrecks.
    I am a few years older and i consider myself too old to be a granny..

  15. #15
    Elite Member B.C.'s Avatar
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    Motor City


    Ah hell no, I'm 52 & I couldn't handle it. But then again I have to work. It took everything I had to raise my 2 kids when I was younger & working full time. Maybe she's retired, she's old enough to be. Good luck to them.

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