Breast Cancer Survivor Whose Ovaries Were Removed Gives Birth to Twins Exactly 2 Years After Beating Cancer

newborn twins both wearing hats and each of them wrapped in a blanket
Northwestern Medicine

“It’s a true miracle. We have two babies, exactly two-years cancer-free. My heart is very full,” Shelly Battista said.

An Illinois breast cancer survivor gave birth to twins after having her ovaries removed following her cancer treatment.

Shelly Battista was 34 years old in February 2020 when she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.

Though she had no prior family history of breast cancer, she was found to have the BRCA 1 mutation, which increased her risk of breast cancer and different types of cancer, according to a press release from Northwestern Medicine.

As part of Battista’s treatment, she needed to undergo chemotherapy and decided to freeze eight embryos since she wanted more children in the future, the hospital said. 

The American Cancer Society recommends women freeze or otherwise preserve their eggs prior to starting their cancer treatment as some treatments can impact their fertility. 

Battista was treated with chemotherapy and she had a double mastectomy in December 2020, she was declared clear of breast cancer, said the release. 

But she then learned she was at an increased risk for ovarian cancer, and so she made the decision to remove her ovaries, the press release said. A year following the conclusion of her cancer treatment, she decided to begin trying for another child, using the embryos she had frozen. 

“Even without ovaries, we’re able to provide the supplemental hormones necessary for pregnancy. This alone is an important teaching point because many people are surprised to learn that you can use in vitro fertilization to become pregnant even if ovaries have been surgically removed or are no longer functioning,” said Dr. Kara Goldman, the medical director of Fertility Preservation at Northwestern Medicine Center for Fertilization and Reproductive Medicine. 

The first attempt at getting pregnant was unsuccessful, but in April 2022, after a second attempt, Battista discovered she was pregnant with twins, the release said. 

On the two-year anniversary of Battista being declared cancer-free, she gave birth to identical twin girls, Nina and Margo. 

“It’s a true miracle. We have two babies, exactly two-years cancer-free. My heart is very full,” Battista said.

“Despite a breast cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy, and losing both ovaries, Shelly’s dream of having three children came true,” Goldman said. “One perfect embryo, frozen urgently before chemotherapy, became two beautiful baby girls.”

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