Natalia De Masi had “absolutely no idea” she’d been living with cancer for five years, until a heartbreaking experience saved her life.
Natalia De Masi had “absolutely no idea” she’d been living with cancer for five years, until a heartbreaking experience saved her life.

Mum’s miscarriage became a ‘miracle’

A MUM who had a miscarriage early on in her pregnancy has described the heartbreaking experience as a "miracle" after the ordeal detected a deadly cancer.

Natalia De Masi miscarried just six weeks into her first pregnancy and as a result underwent a series of tests - that led to the 38-year-old from Melbourne discovering she had a rare cancer which had gone undetected for five years.

Natalia, who had no symptoms, had "absolutely no idea" that her appendix, bowel and lymph nodes all had tumours growing on them.

Had it not been for the miscarriage, her cancer, gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours or GEP-NET, would have continued to go unnoticed and would eventually have killed her.

"It was obviously a sad time when I went through the miscarriage. It was my first pregnancy and it came as quite a shock," Natalia said.

But after being hit with one round of bad news, she was shaken to discover she had cancer, admitting it meant she didn't "really have time to grieve properly".

"I just couldn't believe it. I'd had no symptoms and I didn't feel unwell at all. I think that's the most frightening part, the fact that it could have gone undetected and spread."

Without the pregnancy loss in 2010, Natalia believes she would have died.

"If it wasn't for the miscarriage, I don't know if it ever would have been detected until it was too late.

"It was honestly my miracle miscarriage. It saved my life."

Despite catching the cancer early, surgery to remove the tumours wasn't an option, and instead doctors have to monitor her condition regularly.

Fortunately, there's been no significant growth since then and Natalia's since gone on to have two sons Noah, seven, and Liam, four, and is stepmum to May, 10.

She's also expecting a third bub with husband Steve Gersh, 38.

This month, however, Natalia is starting a treatment option called Somatuline Autogel, otherwise known as Lanreotide, following the Australian Health Minister's announcement that it would be available for a subsidised cost on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The medication is injected into the skin and is used to delay the growth of the GEP-NETs tumours.

Natalia said the new medication would help put her mind at ease in between her yearly check-ups.

"It was really hard at the time as there seemed to be no real options for me," she said. "It was always just a watch and wait situation. It would make me very anxious in between my yearly check-ups."