Holley Tierney, 25, was 23 weeks pregnant with twins when she went to the hospital with pain in her chest and arm. Thinking it was simply a pulled muscle from lifting a heavy object earlier that day, doctors had almost released her, when one doctor suggested an X-ray and CT scan.
“I’m so thankful to the doctor in A&E that pushed me to have an X-ray and CT scan […], he has saved my life,” Tierney told The Daily Mail.
The tests showed that Tierney had a mass on her chest, and after a biopsy, she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a rare and aggressive cancer of the lymphatic system. Doctors advised her to abort her babies so she could begin cancer treatments immediately. Tierney refused.
“I knew there was no way I could terminate my pregnancy when I felt them kick, my maternal instincts had already kicked in,” she said.
Tierney’s treatments were postponed until her twins could be safely delivered. As her twins grew and became stronger, Tierney’s condition began to deteriorate. Doctors pressed her to deliver her babies earlier, but she didn’t want to put their health at risk as it was the most important thing to her. She waited as long as she possibly could and the twins were delivered via C-section one week shy of her goal.
“Once doctors realized I wasn’t having a termination they kept pushing for them to be born premature but I wanted my twins to reach 30 weeks before I had a caesarean,” said Tierney. “But at 29 weeks doctors said I shouldn’t wait any longer as my cancer could spread and I needed to start chemotherapy.”
Baby boy Harlow and baby girl Havana each weighed just under three pounds each when they were born via C-section. They were taken to intensive care.
“Seeing them for the first time was the best feeling in the world, I couldn’t believe they were mine,” said Tierney. “But it was bittersweet as I kept thinking I would never have a chance to watch them grow up.”
One week after the birth, Tierney began chemotherapy and began dealing with sickness and hair loss.
The twins spent 11 weeks in the hospital getting stronger before heading home with their mother. They are doing well.
Tierney will begin radiation treatment after the start of the new year and has vowed to remain strong for her babies.
“They had fought to stay alive and now I needed to fight for my life and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” said Tierney.