By John Connolly

LONDON, February 4, 2008 ( – Doctors who treated a London woman for cancer said on Monday that her life was saved by her unborn twins, whose kicking dislodged the tumor.

Michelle Stepney, 35, was diagnosed with cervical cancer while pregnant with twin girls, both of whom were born healthy in December 2006. According to recent reports by doctors, if the twins had not kicked the tumor loose, it would not have been discovered until it was too late.

Doctors advised Stepney to have an abortion to undergo cancer treatment that would involve a hysterectomy. Stepney refused, waiting to undergo treatment until the twins were born.

“I owe my life to my girls, and that’s why I could have never agreed with a termination,” she said. “I knew I could have an operation straight away and it would cure me of the cancer, but that would mean getting rid of my babies and I couldn’t do that.”

Michelle and her husband, Scott, also had a five-year-old son called Jack at the time of the diagnosis.

“It was a very difficult decision to make,” said Michelle. “We wanted to make sure what we did was right by Jack, but we did not want to do what was wrong by the girls.”

The twins, Alice and Harriet, were delivered by caesarean section 33 weeks into the pregnancy. They were healthy, although due to the reduced chemotherapy treatments used on Michelle, they were born without hair.

“I couldn’t believe it when the doctors told me that the babies had dislodged the tumor,” Michelle said. “I’d felt them kicking, but I didn’t realize just how important their kicking would turn out to be.”

“They were born without any hair as a result of the chemotherapy, but other than that, they were healthy. When I heard them both let out a cry it was the best sound in the world.”

Four weeks later Stepney had a hysterectomy to completely remove the tumor, which tests showed had not spread. She underwent tests last month that showed she is still free from cancer, and Alice and Harriet just celebrated their first birthday.

Michelle said that her family was her support throughout the trials of her cancer and uncertain pregnancy. Her husband gave her unwavering support, working to keep their family together.

“I couldn’t have got through it without him,” she said. “The twins were also a huge support. They kept me strong throughout it all. I feel so lucky. And one day I will tell my daughters how they saved their mummy’s life.”