News story published 11 April 2023
Stacey Broadmeadow, a 38-year-old woman from Stockport in Greater Manchester, has beaten the odds to give birth to a baby boy after being successfully treated for a one-in-a-million cancer at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.
Stacey, who works at the Palace Theatre and Opera House in Manchester, was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP) in 2018. This very rare form of cancer starts in the lining of the appendix, where it produces a jelly-like substance (mucin) that bursts out of the appendix and spreads cells and mucin around the tummy. Symptoms include loss of appetite, unexpected weight gain and stomach pain.
“I had never heard of PMP before I was diagnosed,” comments Stacey. “I noticed some abnormal bleeding, and the only reason I went to the doctor was the desire to start a family. I was worried something would affect my fertility and wanted to check everything was OK. I never expected it to be cancer. My first thought after being diagnosed was that I’d never be a mum, it was absolutely devastating.”
People with PMP need major surgery to remove the tissue lining in the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum) and involved organs that are at risk of implants from the abnormal cells. This often means removing the gallbladder, the spleen and parts of the bowel. Once the surgery has been performed, heated chemotherapy (HIPEC) is introduced into the abdomen to kill any tumour cells that could remain unseen.
In Stacey’s case, her ovaries were going to be removed as part of her operation, so she had her eggs harvested and frozen.
“Even though my cancer was rare, it was slow growing, so that gave me plenty of time to get my eggs frozen,” adds Stacey. “Once that had happened, I could prepare myself for the operation. I was in surgery for eight hours, so it was by no means a small procedure. Professor Sarah O’Dwyer, my consultant, and Rebecca Halstead, my clinical nurse specialist, were brilliant throughout. The Christie is one of only 2 centres in the country that treat rare abdominal cancers like mine. I’m so lucky to have it on my doorstep.”
Stacey’s treatment was successful, and she was moved to just having yearly observations in August 2020. She then started to plan the fertility treatment she’d put on hold for so long.
“All my harvested eggs were used during the IVF process. I was only able to create 2 embryos. I had my first round of IVF in August 2021, and unfortunately, that ended in a miscarriage,” adds Stacey. “I only had one embryo left and had my final round in February last year. The doctors weren’t sure whether it was going to work as the embryo was not as good as the previous one, but it was successful, and my beautiful son Harry arrived in mid-November. I can’t even put into words how I feel. I’m in a complete bubble of love and can’t imagine my life without him.”
Photo credit: Rebecca Susca Photography
Her specialist nurse, Rebecca Halstead from The Christie, supported her throughout her fertility treatment.
“Rebecca has been amazing throughout. She’s my rock, and I don’t know what I’d do without her,” continues Stacey. “Everyone at The Christie has been amazing. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be alive now. It’s thanks to them that I’ve been able to fulfil my dream of becoming a mum. I can’t thank them enough.”
Rebecca Halstead, lead colorectal and peritoneal oncology clinical nurse specialist at The Christie, says: “Being there for patients like Stacey is the reason I do what I do. PMP is rare, so many patients remain undiagnosed or receive incorrect and inadequate treatment before they receive the right diagnosis. Here at The Christie, we not only have the expertise and technology to treat these patients today, but we’re also doing research that will benefit patients in the future. If there is a suspected diagnosis of PMP, early referral to our centre is key.
"It’s been a privilege to get to know Stacey, and I was so happy when she told me about gorgeous baby Harry’s safe arrival. It was lovely news to receive just in time for Christmas.”