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Cancer Survivor Welcomes Identical Twins After Her Ovaries Were Removed During Treatment

Shelly Battista
Shelly Battista

Northwestern Medicine

An Illinois woman gave birth to identical twins after previously having her ovaries removed following cancer treatment.

Shelly Battista, of Arlington Heights, Ill., was first diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer at age 34 after discovering a lump while breastfeeding her first-born daughter in 2020, according to a January press release from Northwestern Medicine.

Shelly was also diagnosed with what's known as a "BRCA1 mutation," which Northwestern says comes with an increased risk of "other types of cancer." She opted to have a double mastectomy, in addition to chemotherapy.


However, the chemotherapy resulted in a condition called "ovarian insufficiency," where the ovaries stop working before a woman reaches age 40, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Shelly Battista
Shelly Battista

Northwestern Medicine

So, with concerns about developing ovarian cancer, Shelly had her ovaries and fallopian tubes surgically removed as well.

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Shelly had frozen eight of her embryos with Northwestern Medicine's Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine before receiving the diagnosis in Dec. 2020.

The following December, she began trying to get pregnant. The first two attempts were not successful, but the third was.

Shelly Battista
Shelly Battista

Northwestern Medicine

During her first ultrasound appointment, Shelly was told she was "having identical twin girls."

"It's like the best celebration of Shelly's cancer journey," husband Robert Battista told Today on Monday. "It's like, you've beaten cancer, and now here's this extra love you get on top of it."

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On Dec. 9, 2022 — exactly two years after she was deemed cancer-free — Shelly gave birth to  Nina and Margot at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago.

"It's a true miracle," Shelly said in Northwestern Medicine's press release. "We have two babies, exactly two-years cancer-free. My heart is very full."

Shelly Battista
Shelly Battista

Northwestern Medicine

Robert said the day "will be the most important day of the year in our family," according to Today.

Meanwhile, Shelly is thankful for the support she received from Northwestern Medicine throughout her years-long journey from cancer to a second chance at motherhood.

"I'm blessed to have a medical team who let me advocate for my medical needs and the future of my family," she said.