A Paxton Family Reunion
Surrogate Carries Twins for Her Sister Who Battled Cancer—Here’s Where They’re at One Year Later
A breast cancer diagnosis is shocking at any age, but for a young wife hoping to have children, it can be especially devastating. This was certainly true for Maggie Paxton, who was a married 30-year-old in December 2014, when she was diagnosed with a small but aggressive cancer (HER2 positive), along with multiple pre-cancerous spots, in her right breast.
Maggie turned to PIH Health oncologist Lisa Wang MD for care. Dr. Wang recommended a treatment plan that would involve immediate chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, plus a targeted immunotherapy designed to block cancer growth. With several pre-cancerous spots in the same breast, Dr. Wang also recommended a mastectomy and shared some somber news.
“Because my cancer was hormone (ER/PR) positive, pregnancy hormones would dramatically increase my chances of cancer recurrence, with no treatments available during pregnancy,” said Maggie. “I had to come to terms with not getting pregnant—another devastating blow.”
Maggie didn’t have to consider her decision long.
“Knowing what I did, it was an easy decision to choose a double mastectomy, which gave me some peace of mind that we had done all we could to prevent the cancer from coming back on either side,” she added.
With chemotherapy set to begin soon, Dr. Wang offered a second suggestion—to consult with a fertility specialist. Appointments with fertility specialists can take weeks, but Dr. Wang said she would try to help as best she could. Thirty minutes later, the fertility doctor called and made himself available. The Paxton’s were thrilled.
“We saw the specialist on Tuesday and started fertility treatment the very next day,” Maggie said. “Within 23 days, they were able to remove 27 eggs, which is extremely rare. The eggs were fertilized by my husband, and we’re fortunate to have 12 viable embryos; we were able to get all of this done before I started chemo.”
After finishing her last round of chemo in June, Maggie had a double mastectomy at PIH Health Whittier Hospital in July 2016.
“Our successful fertility efforts have been such a huge part of my journey and such a positive blessing,” said Maggie. “The idea of having children carried me through some of the darkest days.”
After her chemotherapy treatment, Maggie received even better news—her sister Morgan would be her surrogate.
Morgan gave birth to two beautiful girls, Emery and Deeanna, on February 6, 2017 at PIH Health Whittier Hospital. Emery weighed in at 5 pounds 7 ounces and Deanna at 5 pounds 12 ounces.
"I was sitting there with her while she was delivering, just crying and thanking her—there are just no words," Maggie said.
One year later, and with chemotherapy treatments behind her, Maggie, her husband Danny and Morgan, are celebrating Emery and Deeanna’s first birthday.
“I am actually excited for their first birthday,” says Maggie. “A little sad how fast time has gone but they are just so cute and fun and I know as they get older they will interact with each other more and I can't wait to see that.”
The gift that Morgan gave to Maggie demonstrates a strong sisterly bond like no other.
“I just love seeing how different they are and how much they stick by each other,” said Morgan. “I love being able to experience their growing up and be so closely involved. I love being their aunt!”
If you are 40 and older schedule your mammogram today, call 562.906.5692 to schedule an appointment or for more information, visit PIHHealth.org/Mammogram.