A mum who beat the odds to have a child after a three-year battle with blood cancer has named her baby after the oncologist who helped her.
Emma Bottoms, 43, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – a type of cancer that affects white blood cells – after experiencing symptoms like cramps and excessive sweating, which would continue even after showering.
She underwent multiple rounds of intensive chemotherapy and battled deadly infections – even spending four days in a coma – before, despite all odds, going into remission three years later.
Although Emma was desperate to start a family with her partner, Nathan Ross, 39, medics warned that treatment would affect her fertility and she may struggle to have a baby.
Yet to her delight, the change consultant from Washington, Sunderland, later found out she was pregnant and welcomed a son, Tobias, who she named after her oncologist, Dr Tobias Menne.
Emma even went back to the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, with her son to meet the doctor who saved her life in a heart-warming reunion.
‘The diagnosis was a massive shock, and it put our family plans on hold,’ she said.
‘I wanted to be a mam for a very long time, so it was extra special when Tobias arrived.’
Emma had been experiencing symptoms including headaches at the back of her head for five months before seeking medical advice.
She initially thought she was working long hours and ‘burning the candle at both ends’ after going on hen dos and a family holiday to Rome.
But tests revealed the truth, and she was diagnosed with cancer in September 2015.
Emma said: ‘I had absolutely no clue what to look out for in terms of blood cancer. My only experience was losing my dad to cancer who had died two years prior.
‘I went from absolute fear and devastation to being strong because my dad knew I could do this.’
Emma began chemotherapy followed by two years of oral maintenance therapy for her leukaemia, going through a number of severe illnesses such as blood clots, kidney, and lung failure during treatment.
She even contracted sepsis and spent four days in an induced coma at hospital inNewcastle, but despite setbacks managed to pull through.
‘I can still remember that euphoric feeling of being alive and out of intensive care,’ said Emma.
‘Dr Tobias was very into the science and research of it, but he’s also had a lovely bedside manner.
‘It was so traumatic losing my hair so one positive thing for me was when I got a real wig which looked like my real hair.’
Following her gruelling three-year chemotherapy, Emma was discharged in August 2018, with doctors advising her to wait six months before trying for a baby.
Then, nearly a year later, she and her partner Nathan, a material controller in car manufacturing, found out they were expecting their first child.
Emma continued: ‘I was apprehensive when I found out I was pregnant – my body had let me down before.
However, she had a smooth delivery and the couple’s son, Tobias, was born on April 29, 2020 weighing in at 5lbs 14oz, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead.
Emma told Dr Tobias about his new namesake via a tweet due to lockdown.
‘It was his care and the team keeping me here, that was the reason why I was pregnant,’ she said.
Tobias and Dr Tobias finally met a few months after he was born, with Emma adding: ‘It was a bit tricky as we went in during lockdown but it was lovely for him to meet Tobias.
Emma – who describes her ‘miracle’ baby as ‘a little live wire’ who ‘loves to run and is just a joy, doing a lot of chatting’ – is being supported by Blood Cancer UK who are currently working with Omaze on their latest house raffle draw which takes place July 30.
Following the couple’s happy news, Emma’s mum sadly died of pneumonia in April this year.
She said: ‘My family and friends really were such a support. It was such a traumatic time and having their support kept me strong when I was falling.
‘Mam adored Tobias and she was absolutely over the moon to have a grandchild.
‘The number one thing for me is the research Blood Cancer UK does.
‘You can feel very isolated because it’s really difficult to relate to people, but having a community of people who understand is amazing.’
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