When Aleks Patete learned she was pregnant with her first child, she and her husband, Dominic, were over the moon.
But just seven weeks into her pregnancy, doctors discovered a cyst on Aleks’ ovary that turned out to be cancer.
Had Aleks not been pregnant, she says she likely would not have had an ultrasound done in time to catch the cancer in time.
“It’s a miracle,” Patete, a registered nurse, told PEOPLE. “The cancer could have progressed a lot further, and we would have had no idea if I wasn’t for my pregnancy.
“God sent DJ to save my life,” she added.
Doctors quickly revealed that Aleks’ best option would be to terminate the pregnancy and begin aggressive cancer treatments, but she immediately refused.
“He saved my life,” she said. “Now it was my turn to save his life.”
Instead, Aleks started a type of chemo that she would be allowed to take while pregnant, but there was always a possibility that the treatments could affect her baby.
“As a mom, you don’t want to do anything that could harm your baby,” said Patete. “I was terrified, but they explained that it was a relatively safe option.”
The mom-to-be then started on a five-month chemo plan that required her to go in for six rounds of chemotherapy every four weeks.
At the time, Patete was still working as a nurse, so the chemotherapy combined with the pregnancy was pretty grueling.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” she said. “But we had to weigh our options — if I didn’t do anything, I put my life at risk, if I did something, was I putting the baby at risk?”
“It was extremely difficult,” she added.
Though she was terrified for her child’s health and safety, Patete was pleasantly surprised when her son’s ultrasound scans continued to show that he was perfectly healthy.
“It put my mind at ease,” she said. “But you never stop thinking the worst possibility, like what am I doing to my baby?”
Patete finished her treatments on April 24, and DJ arrived just three weeks later without any complications.
“It was just beautiful,” she said. “And he’s the sweetest baby, always smiling and just a joy.”
Shortly after DJ arrived, Patete had her right ovary and fallopian tubes removed, so she can still go on to have more children in the future.
As of now, Patete is in complete remission, and she continues to credit her life to DJ.
“I think about the things that could have happened and what could have gone wrong and there’s no other reason than the grace of God that everything worked out and we are both alive,” the new mom said.
“I truly think God was watching over us,” she added.
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