13/02/2012 12:52 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

My Miracle Boys: Mum Expecting Twins Refused To Consider Abortion After Being Told She Had Breast Cancer

Mum expecting twins refused abortion after being told she had breast cancer Getty model release

A mum-to-be diagnosed with breast cancer when she was four and a half months pregnant with TWINS has revealed how she refused to have an abortion, and went to to have two health boys.

Zoila Leiva underwent chemotherapy and fought back to health to have "two strong, healthy boys".

Zoila's remarkable story is reported on Mail Online on the day doctors reported in The Lancet that pregnant women with breast cancer can be treated safely, and don't need to delay treatment until they give birth.

Zoila, 42, from Whittier in California, had first felt a lump in her breast in February 2007, but had been told it was a benign cyst following a mammogram and ultrasound.

However, in December that year she was told it was actually cancer and she faced a terrible decision of life and death.

"My oncologist recommended an abortion straight away as my cancer was advanced and had spread to the lymph nodes," she told Mail Online.

"They told me there was no way of knowing if it had spread into any organs while I was pregnant as I couldn't have any of the necessary scans.


They wanted me to have a termination within two weeks, but after hearing about the procedure I was horrified. I could feel my babies moving. I thought 'I'll just die of depression if I kill them now'.


"So I never went back to that medical practice."

Aided by the cancer support network Hope For Two, Zoila went to see a series of experts who told her that she could have cancer treatment while pregnant - especially as she was past her first trimester.

She had four rounds of chemotherapy over 12 weeks, while also taking the drug Herceptin.

By the time she was ready to give birth at the recommended 32 weeks, the tumour had shrunk to almost nothing.

Zoila said she had three specialist doctors on hand during her C-section as they were worried her sons would weigh as little as 2lbs.

However, when they were born in April 2008, Julian was 4lbs, 3oz, while Joel was 3lbs, 12oz.

"They were strong healthy boys," said Zoila.

"The doctors had told me they could be in intensive care for five weeks but they were ready to come home in two weeks!"

Zoila has now been clear of the disease for three years and says she is enjoying every day she gets to spend with her sons.

"They are four years old now and little terrors!" she joked.

Zoila said she was keen to tell other women that they did have options.

"I want women to know that there is hope and that they can save their lives and that of the babies as well,' she said. "Cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence."

What a remarkable story - congratulations on your boys, Zoila!

More on Parentdish: The glass half full: A breast cancer blog