New grandparents feel like double-lucky winners
By Kate Northrop
A couple who won £1 million (US$1,310,575) in a EuroMillions raffle in February 2018 are feeling like they won twice after they used the prize to fund successful IVF treatments for their two daughters.
Ruth and Mark Chalmers, 61 and 60, wanted to help their daughters have children after landing a £1 million prize in the lottery, and now they are celebrating life as new grandparents.
Having children was a struggle for the Chalmers' daughters, Natalie, 33, and Leanne, 36, since they were both diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). However, their parents rushed in to provide support after their lucky win.
Now, the Chalmers are loving every moment they spend with Natalie's son, Koby, 3, and Leanne's son, Brogen, 19 months.
Before they contributed to their in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, the winners said that their first priority was to get their children's mortgage paid off. Once that was taken care of, they looked at the possibility of IVF treatments for both their daughters.
"Natalie has gone through it for quite a number of years of trying to get pregnant and different things going on with her medical conditions," Mark told the PA news agency. "At one stage, she rang me in floods of tears saying, 'they want to take my womb out,' and she thought that was the absolute end. But luckily, she persevered, she saw some other doctors, and we didn't need to go down that route, and then we looked at going down the IVF route."
Mark and Ruth had originally planned to fund Natalie's IVF treatment with a sum Mark received upon his early retirement, but winning the lottery, they said, made it so much easier.
"The lottery is a fantasy that became reality for us," Mark continued. "It's given us a lot of security and a lot of pleasure — most over those two [boys]."
Natalie added that she had endured years of operations and was finally told that it was near impossible for her to conceive a child given her condition. When her parents came forward with the news that IVF treatments were a reality thanks to the lottery win, she felt a rainbow of emotions, from happy to excited to nervous.
"I just can't thank them enough for it," she said in an interview. "They have given me him (Koby), really. I wouldn't have been able to do it without them."
Leanne had a similar experience as her sister and was explicitly told by her doctor that kids would never be a possibility. She described being devastated upon learning the news in her early 20's.
"So, when I first found out [about her PCOS diagnosis], my doctor actually said, 'You'll never have kids,' but it turns out that they were wrong," Leanne recalled. "It's not impossible. It's just really hard."
She sat down with her parents and presented a financial plan for our she would support herself and a baby when she decided to try for one. Expecting a back-and-forth discussion, Leanne was surprised when her father eagerly said they would support her right away.
Now, the daughters are relishing the joys their sons bring, and what was previously described to them as an impossible feat is now a reality.
"[The boys] look like twins — everybody thinks they're brothers," Leanne remarked. "[Brogen is] so happy and he's always smiling. He just likes to play and get on with things."
One thing the sisters readily advocate for is more support and resources for people diagnosed with PCOS so that they can receive the help they need to conceive.
"It's getting a bit better now," Leanne explained. "When I was diagnosed with it, there wasn't a lot out there. I tried researching it, and there wasn't much to read about it. A lot of it was quite negative, and it was pretty much: 'You've got to get used to the fact that you'll never have kids.'"
Thankfully, that's not the case for the Chalmers', who are more than thankful for the two young additions to their family.