NEW YORK — The holidays are a time to celebrate and one new mom in Pennsylvania has more reasons than ever this year.
Twins Mack and Millie are just four months old, but one day, their mom will have a story to tell them.
“I’ll tell them like we can do really hard things. And so, sometimes you just have to push through,” new mother Katie Robb Sewall said.
Katie always wanted to be a mother, but in 2014 when she was just 27, she got a diagnosis she never expected: aggressive stage three breast cancer.
“It was a very scary time. The treatment was going to be very aggressive,” she said.
Right from the start, her doctors at the Cleveland Clinic focused on her whole health, including preserving her fertility. Dr. Halle Moore is Katie’s oncologist and the Director of Breast Medical Oncology.
“Chemotherapy drugs can injure the ovaries and cause premature menopause. For our younger patients, we always want to determine whether future fertility is a potential consideration,” Dr. Moore said.
Katie had a double mastectomy and she and her husband Craig decided to freeze embryos before chemotherapy.
“Doing the fertility treatments was a really bright spot in a really dark time. It gave us a lot of hope,” Katie said.
Doctors also used a drug to protect her ovaries during treatment. Katie stayed on hormone therapy for five years, and in 2020, got the go-ahead to try to conceive. After multiple attempts at IVF, the couple welcomed Mack and Millie.
“The embryos didn’t work out. And so that was definitely difficult. I feel really grateful to my oncologist for really insisting that we not just rely on one form of fertility preservation,” Katie said.
Katie is now back on hormone treatment. Doctors point out that using eggs that have been exposed to chemotherapy but where ovarian protecting medications have been used do not result in a higher risk of birth defects and other abnormalities.
When asked about what becoming a mother means to her, she said, “Oh, it’s just a dream come true. The fact that I get to live is number one. And we got to make this dream come true, as it’s just a blessing on top of that.”
She’s grateful for family and the future this Christmas.
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