Treatment: Lumpectomy, Chemotherapy
In September of 2007, I was told that the small lump I had found in my left breast was cancer. The overwhelming shock of this news was then compounded a mere three days later when I discovered that I was also pregnant. “What is happening to me?” I asked my husband as we both stared in disbelief at the two pink lines on the stick. To add to the insanity, we (along with our 6-year old son) expected to hear news any day that the international adoption that had been in progress for two years was finally being approved.
For the next two weeks, we drove all over Los Angeles attempting to figure out what our options were. A biopsy of my tumor had shown it was an aggressive type of cancer that would require surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy. The first three doctors we saw all suggested terminating the pregnancy, so I could focus on my own health. But I knew from my very recent, panicked and desperate research that there were other women who had gone through chemotherapy while pregnant, and their babies had turned out fine.
While still confused about what to do about this little life inside me, I underwent a lumpectomy to remove the tumor. Thankfully, the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes and was considered Stage I. Soon after this, I went for another opinion from two more doctors regarding my treatment, despite expecting to hear the same depressing advice. However, after a thorough review of my medical file, they told me that they had every reason to believe that they could save both my baby and me. They had treated other women in my similar situation in the past with success. I was altogether terrified and happy at the thought of what lay ahead.
My unborn daughter and I went through four rounds of chemotherapy together. Ultrasounds throughout that time showed that Samantha was developing right on target and growing normally. During those months, we were informed that we had been matched with a 17-month old girl in China. One look at her picture and I knew there was no way we were giving up on her either. Six weeks later, my husband flew to China to bring our daughter Naomi home.
One month following my fourth round of chemo (which was two months after Naomi’s arrival), I was scheduled for delivery. I was nervous, but all I could think was that we were finally going to meet Samantha, which seemed utterly surreal to me. Was this really about to happen? After all these months, and all the stress and anticipation, was I actually about to meet our miracle baby? Would she be okay? It’s difficult to describe the feelings that engulfed me as Samantha left my body and entered the world. Elation, relief, accomplishment, and a bit of loss, are a few that come to mind. “You’re free, Samantha,” I thought, as I held her for the first time, admiring her dimples. She was perfect.
I am soon to celebrate my 3-year survivor anniversary along with my wonderful husband and three beautiful children. My “party of five” is thriving and happy. I hope not only to inform women who find themselves in a situation similar to my own that they can face both cancer and pregnancy at the same time, but also to inspire others to face challenges head on, even when it seems impossible.
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