Mum Diagnosed With Cancer Days After Twins’ Dramatic Birth

June 26, 2024

Tara Bishop’s tiny premature twins were fighting for life in the Neonatal Critical Care Unit at Mater Mothers’ Hospital when the Brisbane mum received the devastating news that she had endometrial cancer.

Her diagnosis came just 11 days after twins Evelyn and Harvey had been born two months early in an ambulance on the side of the Pacific Motorway.

Ms Bishop’s babies were still struggling to breathe independently in the NCCU when doctors revealed cancer had been detected by routine pathology tests on her placenta.

“What was supposed to be a happy time of our lives very quickly turned into an emotional rollercoaster,” Ms Bishop said.

“I was in a state of shock, dealing with the twins coming so early and then the diagnosis.

“You can have cancer of the uterus without any symptoms and I had no reason to suspect anything was wrong.

“When I look at my babies today I believe they are my little lifesavers.”

Ms Bishop, 33, and her partner Hayden Davies, 31, from Sunnybank Hills, are sharing their story to raise awareness during Uterine Cancer Awareness Month.

Endometrial cancer (which occurs in the uterus lining) accounts for more than 90% of all uterine cancer cases and is the most common gynaecological cancer, claiming the lives of around 550 Australian women a year.

Dr Naven Chetty, a gynaecological oncologist at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane and Mater Hospital Brisbane treated Ms Bishop and said her case was rare.

“It is extremely rare for a patient to be diagnosed with this type of cancer during pregnancy,” Dr Chetty said.

“Tara’s cancer was low-grade and she was in a rare age group to be presenting with endometrial cancer, and to present immediately post-partum is very unusual.”

Ms Bishop underwent a hysterectomy and removal of her fallopian tubes and is now cancer-free.

“Given her low stage and low grade cancer, we would expect a cure,” Dr Chetty said.

Dr Chetty said endometrial cancer is a slow-growing cancer and Ms Bishop would have presented with bleeding at some stage.

He said most patients are successfully treated and urged women to seek medical attention if they develop any of the main symptoms, which include:

  • any bleeding in post-menopausal women
  • persistent or abnormal bleeding in younger women

Ms Bishop’s breech-born premature twins were born after her waters broke in the early hours of 31 October 2022.

She was being rushed to Mater Mothers’ Hospital by ambulance when the crew was forced to pull to the side of the Tarragindi exit of the Pacific Motorway.

Minutes later Evelyn was born in the back of the ambulance, quickly followed by Harvey.

Ms Bishop said she was grateful to the multidisciplinary teams at Mater who cared for her twins in the neonatal unit and also supported her through her cancer surgery.

“I couldn’t hold my babies for three weeks which was a really horrible feeling, but knowing that they are alive and well, and so am I, is amazing,” she said.

Ms Bishop said her happy and healthy twins, who are now almost two, are enjoying life.

“Their 10-year-old big sister Skylar adores them,” she said.

“At no point would you look at the twins and know they were born two months’ premature.

“But then you would look at me and have no idea I had endometrial cancer.”

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