Cancer survivor’s clinical trial creates ‘little miracle’

ECSTATIC: Natasha Eaton with her son, Jack Cooper, 4. Natasha was involved in a clinical trial that helped her conceive. Picture: Simone De PeakNATASHA Eaton calls her four-year-old son, Jack Cooper, her “little miracle”.

At 32 years of age, in 2008, Ms Eaton was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer.

She had always planned to become a mum, and to learn that might no longer be a possibility was devastating.

A common long-term side effect of chemotherapy is that menopause is brought on early.

In the hope of still being able to conceive and have a baby, Ms Eaton had her eggs frozen.

She also signed up to an international clinical trial called the Prevention of Early Menopause Study.

The trial’s results were released only recently – and they bring new fertility hope to women with cancer.

Every four weeks during her chemotherapy treatment, Ms Eaton was injected with a drug called goserelin.

It effectively put her ovaries to sleep by reducing estrogen production.

The early menopause study found that women who received the drug were less likely to be in menopause two years after their cancer (8 per cent compared to 22 per cent).

They were also twice as likely to have a normal pregnancy after their cancer treatment.

Ms Eaton was “ecstatic” to find out she was pregnant just six months after completing her chemo, something that came as a complete surprise.

“I was very shocked; it was the last thing I thought was going to happen,” she said.

“If this can eventually be used for all women with all cancers this is revolutionary.

“Imagine if all young women could have this implant to protect their ovaries.”

Ms Eaton, now 39, said Jack was an extremely smart and healthy boy.

Ms Eaton has had her ovaries removed because she has the BRCA1 gene which means she has an increased risk of developing ovarian or breast cancer.

After initially having a lumpectomy she is also planning to have a double mastectomy to further reduce her risk of redeveloping cancer.

Globally, there were 256 women who participated in the study and of those, 58 women came from Australia and New Zealand.

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