A mum who learned she was pregnant four days after being diagnosed with breast cancer gave birth to a healthy baby girl – despite seven doctors advising her to terminate.
Tifanie Morataya, 37, thought she was going to die after a biopsy revealed a painful lump the size of a tangerine on her left breast was cancerous.
The financial coach was dealt a second blow when she was told by doctors that if she did survive, she may not be able to have children as chemotherapy can damage eggs.
She was referred to an IVF specialist to freeze her eggs so she could give their son Alexander, now ten, a sibling.
But while she was being examined at the clinic the fertility specialist walked out of the room in disbelief – because Tifanie was already pregnant.
The brave mum claims that following that revelation, seven doctors at various medical centers in California – which she does not wish to name – advised her to terminate.
She researched undergoing chemo while pregnant and read that the risks were “high” – but says she could find no conclusive evidence that it would impact her unborn child.
Hopeful, she and college professor Anthony, 52, decided to keep the baby and Tifanie continued with her treatment.
Tifanie, who received her cancer diagnosis on August 1 2016 and learned she was pregnant on August 5, underwent a mastectomy on September 16 and began chemo on October 21.
Miraculously, she gave birth to a completely healthy, 4.5lbs baby daughter at 3.10pm on March 11 2017, who was seemingly unaffected by her mother’s cancer.
Tifanie, who is now cancer-free, has since taken 14-month-old Zoe to meet the doctors who told her terminate, to prove that “miracles can happen”.
The mum-of-two, of Fairfield, California, said: “First I learned that I might die and then we had this baby that might die too.
“It was a nightmare. So many people were telling me what to do.
“I wanted them to tell me something solid, like that the child was going to be brain damaged or have one arm or have heart disease.
“But there was nothing. There were no tangible risks.
“It was truly scary. As much as I had decided, ‘I’m going to go through with this,’ I was thinking, ‘Oh God, what am I doing?’
“There was a lot of guilt. I was really holding my breath the whole time fearing I would get bad news, but I was holding onto hope.
“I was afraid secretly but I was more strong, and my strength and determination kept me going for Zoe and Alexander.
“I felt completely drained through treatment. Physically it was the most tired I have ever felt in my entire life. It was like every ounce of blood drained out of you.
“I was pregnant and I would have to run to the restroom to be sick for one reason or another, but it was just like, ‘Get it done.’
“Five weeks before my due date I woke up thinking I had wet the bed so grabbed a towel and went back to sleep, but my waters had broken.
“My husband helped me get up and into his truck and we went to the hospital. I pushed her out in two seconds.
“After 45 minutes they gave her to me and she didn’t have anything hooked up to her.
“She was perfectly healthy and breathing on her own.
“I was stoked. I could breathe for the first time in months. As strong as I tried to pretend I was, I was just as nervous as everyone else.
“It was such a relief that she had ten fingers and ten toes.
“It was perfect.”
Tifanie first noticed a lump on her left breast “the size of a lima bean” in April 2016 but says she was initially told there was nothing wrong.
By July, the lump was hard, painful and had swelled to “the size of a tangerine”.
She claims her doctor still insisted it was not cancerous but referred her to a surgeon so she could have it removed.
It was then that the surgeon questioned what the lump was and ordered a biopsy, which revealed she had advanced stage three breast cancer.
Tifanie said: “I was just numb. What you think when you first hear something like that is what you see on TV, which is that you’re going to die.
“I asked my doctor, ‘What about babies, can I have more babies?’ My son had always wanted a sibling.
“She said chemotherapy damages your eggs because it kills fast growing cells, so she sent me to an IVF clinic.
“When I went there they were doing my observations and the doctor was like, ‘Put your legs up,’ and then he did the exam.
“He is in this sliding chair and he slides back to the other side of the room and I’m thinking, ‘What, what is it?’
“He said, ‘I need a minute.’ He walks out of the room and I was freaking out.
“Then he came back in and was laughing. He was like, ‘Lady, you are already pregnant.’
“I was like, ‘What, no, I have cancer I’m not pregnant.’ He was like, ‘Yes, you are.’”
Tifanie then had to decide whether to continue with the IVF and have her eggs harvested which would mean losing her unborn child, or to continue the pregnancy.
She said: “I did some research and couldn’t find any information about pregnancy during chemo being unsafe.
“We found, ‘Oh, it is not recommended,’ or, ‘The risks are high,’ or, ‘There is concern for the baby.’
“I went for second and third opinions at different hospitals and at the end of the day, seven doctors recommended I terminate.
“I have since gone back to visit some of the doctors who told me to terminate. I said, ‘I don’t know if you remember me but this is my daughter. She is healthy.’
“Most of them gave me a hug and said, ‘We’re so happy we were wrong.’ I just wanted them to know it can happen.
“She is a miracle baby, and she is strong and sassy.
“It is probably the decision I’m most proud of in my life.”