Pregnant with Cancer
My journey began on June 26, 2015. I was 14 weeks pregnant and I had just announced my pregnancy to my family and friends. I was over the moon, but in an instant, my life had been changed forever.
I felt a tingling sensation in my left breast while watching TV one Sunday evening. When I touched the spot, I immediately felt a lump that was the size of a marble. I immediately googled “tingly lump breast” and of course it said CANCER! I panicked. I started to freak out and cry. My husband thought I was being dramatic and told me to calm down. The next day, I immediately called my OB and as a precaution she sent me to see a breast specialist. My OB and breast specialist both said, “Don’t worry. You’re pregnant. It’s probably just a clogged milk duct.” Except it wasn’t just a clogged milk duct. Days later, imaging tests and a biopsy confirmed that I had stage II breast cancer.
At first, my husband, Jason, and I were devastated. We had been anxiously waiting for this baby to come. We had been trying for years and I was ready to give up on having a baby, but now I know my baby came exactly when he was supposed to. He came just in time to save my life!
My cancer is estrogen and progesterone positive, which means it fed off of my pregnancy hormones. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for my baby, I would not have found my cancer so early.
I have no family history of breast cancer. My mother was 78 years old at the time and perfectly healthy. Why me? I was only 34. It wasn’t fair! I was angry and scared. Would my baby be ok? Will I live long enough to raise my son?
Shortly after I was diagnosed, I learned that 85% of women with a breast cancer diagnosis do not have a family history of this disease, according to www.cancer.gov. I also learned that “breast cancer is the most common cancer in pregnant women, and it occurs in 1 in every 3,000 pregnant women.”
The day after my diagnosis, my husband and I began our baby registry. We decided to focus on joy. No matter what, I was going to have this baby! Nothing was going to stop me, not even cancer!
The following week, I underwent a minor surgery to have my port inserted so I could immediately begin my four month regime of chemotherapy. My chemo cocktail consisted of Adriamycin, Cytoxan, and 5FU. I had an amazing team of doctors and my cancer treatment and birth of my child was planned out very carefully.
Blake was induced four weeks early, on November 21, 2015. He was perfectly healthy, despite going through six rounds of chemotherapy while still in the womb. He spent no time in the NICU and had more hair than me! Two days after his birth, I had a lumpectomy and 24 lymph nodes removed. Blake got to home from the hospital before I did!
Today, Blake is thriving toddler. He loves playing with cars, reading books, dancing, and singing “Wheels on the Bus.” He’s quite charming and people always complement his big brown eyes. He pretty much has everyone wrapped around his little pinky and brings so much joy to our lives.
As for me, I finished my treatment in July 2016 which included an additional 12 rounds of Taxol weekly and 36 daily radiation sessions. I am currently taking Tamoxphen and Lupron for the next 10 years. I started seeing a psychologist in January 2017 to help me cope with all of the emotions a cancer diagnosis brings. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I still see my psychologist at least once every two weeks.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. I urge you to do self-exams and never miss your annual physicals and mammograms. Please take care of yourself because you never know what tomorrow may bring.