Kelsi Simms proudly held up a sign in hospital three years ago that read “Final Chemo.”
The photo marks a huge milestone for the young Duncan woman — the determined breast cancer survivor had finally completed her last chemo and radiation treatments.
But Simms also feared that what saved her, may have ended her dream of motherhood.
“I underwent a couple surgeries as well as chemo and radiation. I was 26 when I went through it so it was a little scary for sure,” said Kelsi Simms.
The young nurse was warned her cancer treatments could reduce her fertility.
“Just pushing through each day for me was the biggest challenge,” said Simms.
“What she went through was amazing, going through chemo and radiation,” said Simm’s mother Lorraine Francisty.
But she never gave up hope and said she wanted so badly to become a mom. Then in 2021, two years post-cancer diagnosis learned she was pregnant and was blown away by what her first ultrasound revealed.
“To get the news on our first ultrasound that we were having twins, yeah it came as quite the surprise,” said Simms.
“We never thought she’d be able to have children so to end up having twins was just wonderful to all of us and they are two beautiful identical twin girls,” said Francisty.
While Simms’ pregnancy journey may be rare, fertility rates on Vancouver Island reveal more and more women facing big challenges to becoming mothers.
Victoria now leads the country for the lowest fertility rate per capita while Nanaimo is second, according to new data from Statistics Canada.
The dropping birth rate has become a national trend as inflation, the high cost of living and time setting up careers pushes parents to wait longer than ever to have kids.
“By 2020, we registered the lowest ever fertility level in this country at 1.4 children per woman,” said Statistics Canada’s Laurent Martel.
Celebrating her first Mother’s Day on May 8, Simms reflected on the journey she’s taken to this point.
“After going through the cancer scare and seeing the other end of it I’m just super grateful,” said Simms.
The now 29-year-old hopes her story might inspire someone else still trying to become the mom they’ve always wanted to be.