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

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Saturday, March 22, 2008 | 0 comments

Photo by Tollefsen, pregnant at 57
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.

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.

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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost our precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted there will be no more babies in our house.

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