Fighting to Be a Dad
This Fathers’ Day, one man from Stoke-on-Trent will be extra grateful for the chance of being a daddy.
David Tebbutt (35) was diagnosed with cancer in his left leg when he was 30 and was told that radical radiotherapy would destroy his sperm along with any cancerous cells.
“I discovered a lump in my leg and went to the doctor about it. After a series of tests I was given the news that I would have to undergo an operation to remove a tumour the size of a melon from my upper leg. This would be followed by daily radiotherapy. The chances of eradicating the cancer were good but it would potentially destroy my fertility too,” said David.
David and his wife Tammy (27) were eight months pregnant with their daughter Lilly, now four, when David was diagnosed with this life changing condition.
“We were crushed,” said Tammy. “We were looking forward to the birth of our first child so this news really rocked our world. I didn’t know whether I would be raising our daughter alone.”
Despite Tammy getting ready for the birth of their daughter, the couple wanted the option of more children in the future so Tammy and David decided to look into sperm freezing before radiotherapy started.
“We chose to go to Midland Fertility for David’s fertility preservation,” said Tammy. “We were made an immediate appointment and were reassured it would all be very straight-forward. But when I walked into the waiting room for the first time I felt a mix of emotions,” she said.
“I was worried about our future as a family but also felt guilty about walking in clearly pregnant. I was so overwhelmed by it I cried when we left!”
As NHS funding was not available, the couple paid to store David’s sperm for future use.
David had much of his upper left leg removed as the tumour was attached to his artery and he had muscle and skin grafts from his right leg. He underwent six weeks of intensive radiotherapy but then received the news that he may never walk unaided again.
“I was devastated that the cancer had been so advanced and meant that it was now affecting my future. I wanted to be healthy for the birth of our daughter so was determined to think positively,” said David.
Lilly arrived in January 2011 giving David and Tammy a new focus.
“We loved being a family and Lily was helping David to progress physically and mentally. We always wanted a big family though, so when Lilly was two, we decided it was the right time to try for a sibling for her,” said Tammy.
The couple returned to Midland Fertility in January 2013 to discuss using David’s frozen sperm in a fertility treatment cycle.
As there were no medical reasons why Tammy would need extra fertility medication or hormonal support, the couple underwent a cycle of intrauterine insemination (IUI). This meant a timed insemination of David’s sperm at the clinic. The first treatment cycle resulted in a negative outcome but Tammy and David tried again in 2014 and found themselves facing another two week wait to carry out a pregnancy test.
“It was an anxious wait to see if the freeze, thaw and treatment had been successful. If it had not been then our hopes for a second child would be over,” said David.
The test proved positive and the couple could confidently celebrate a truly remarkable pregnancy. Ruby arrived in November 2014 making the Tebbutts a very happy family!
David has since defied odds and is now taking a few steps – making his family very proud.
“I am still in remission and hope to get the all clear in September, but I count my blessings every day that I am here for my girls. I love being a daddy,” said David.
“You just don’t know what life has to throw at you and one course of life saving treatment can impact on the rest of your lives. We would never have had our beautiful family without the help of Midland Fertility and the foresight to store my sperm.”
The Tebbutt family consider themselves very lucky, particularly on Fathers’ Day when Lilly and Ruby can spend time with their very brave daddy!
“Infertility can be caused by many reasons – including life-saving medical treatments,” said Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director at Midland Fertility.
“But if there is time, fertility preservation such as pre-chemotherapy sperm and egg freezing can give cancer survivors the chance of future genetic parenthood.
“We send our best wishes to all fathers on their special day and especially to those who have defied the odds to be a daddy.”