I was about 26 years old, working professional, married for about one year and thought it was time to start a family. I experienced my first lost with a miscarriage at 12 weeks. I was devastated and thought I would never have a baby. About one year later I became pregnant again. The pregnancy was a very normal pregnancy with no problems according to my doctor. I didn't know any better, now I look back and think how dumb and how many more questions I should of asked. But I didnt know any better. My daughter was stillborn. The autopsy said she died because she had gotten too big for the uterus. She was delivered at 41 weeks and weighted 10 lbs. 3 oz. I had gained approximately 80 lbs. We were heart broken. The doctor couldn't even look me in the eye. He told me I should wait three months before trying again.
Four months after our daughter's death, we decided we needed a vacation and took a cruise to the Caribbean to get away. I came back pregnant after the cruise. We were so excited. I went to see my doctor, and I knew I was pregnant. It was a long wait in the waiting room. He called me in his office. He said, "Mrs. Jones, I have some good news and bad news. The good news is you're pregnant. The bad news is we had a test come back bad from your daughter. It was her genetics." He said she had turner syndrome and that he had tried to get in touch with me. I doubt he tried. It was five months later, and I have an answering machine. He could have written me a letter. I felt he had dropped the ball. I freaked out. He was telling me something was wrong with my daughter after five months, and now I was pregnant again and that I might want to consider an amnio so if something showed bad with the genetics, I may want an abortion.
I remember leaving that office just balling my eyes out and driving, calling my husband from my car phone and him telling me to just pull off the road. I remember wondering why that doctor told me that news when I was there by myself and then sent me out of his office. My husband took charge. We went to a genetic conselor; I took all my papers on Megan - her autopsy, all the test results I had and I did have the doctor make a copy of the paper he had that he must have just forgotten to give me when I received all the other papers. The counselor looked at the papers, did some research and came to the conclusion that our daughter would have probably been a slow learner. We could deal with a slow learner, and the odds of it happening again where about 1 out of 1,000. I would never consider having an abortion. I was brought up a very strong believer; I'm Catholic and abortion was never something I would consider. I would never be able to live with myself knowing I killed a gift that God gave me.
I always believe that God would take care of me and my baby. We decided not to go with the doctor that delivered my daughter and went to the High Risk doctors at a different hospital. My pregnancy was normal except for gestational diabetes, which I am sure I had with my daughter based on her size and that the placenta was starting to wear out. My son was born by c-section and perfect. He is now 6 - bright and beautiful.
My high risk doctors told me to wait one year before trying again because my uterus was so thin and the scar tissue from the first emergency section. About 13 months to the date I was back there and pregnant again. At about 8 weeks I was spotting, and the doctors saw a mask behind the baby. Thinking it was a cyst that women sometimes get when they are pregnant, they decided to just watch it. At about 13 weeks, the cyst was growing, and I was in a lot of pain. I guess at 13 weeks, you don't need your ovaries anymore and the placenta is in place. So at 13 weeks they did surgery to remove my ovary because it was twisting. When the pathology department cut into the ovary, they found cancer. The doctors were not trained in that field so they closed me back up. My baby was still doing fine.
From there, I healed for the next two weeks and then had to go to Madison, WI for an expert in Ovarian Cancer. They wanted to do exploratory surgery which consisted of taking about 60 biopsies for testing for cancer or cutting you open and taking all the stuff on your right side out, looking at your organs for cancer, then putting them back and doing the same to your left side. I had all of this to worry about besides being pregnant and having a 15 month old baby at home. The cancer in my ovary was in capsulated (that's a good thing).
I had the surgery - a team of approximately six doctors did the surgery. One doctor held the uterus the hold time keeping it warm. They placed the baby back in and removed the other ovary, fallopian tubes, and appendix; they left the uterus and cervix. The doctor felt confident there was no other cancer. I remember it was Halloween time, and the children from the cancer ward came down to trick or treat. I remember all the sick people on my ward. All I wanted to be was home with my 15 month old baby Jake. I cried that night and felt sorry for myself. I would pray. The next day is All Saints Day a holy day. I went to church their in the chapel feeling sorry for myself so far from home and all alone. Then I felt the baby move. The first time - he was saying, "You're not alone; I am here with you." That day, November 1st, will always be a special day for me.
The test results came back from the biopsies, and the doctor told me that one had come back bad. That meant my chances for survival went from 80/20 to 50/50. Not to mention the baby. He was talking chemo therapy with pregnancy. They weren't sure how much of the chemo would cross over to the placenta. He said cocaine crosses over but the drugs for chemo have only been studied for about 20 years. I had one treatment of chemo and went home until I was to take my next treatment in about three weeks. I got sick from the chemo. I was just so scared of everything - never seeing my little boy again. He was so clueless. I would cry, and he would just smile at me and make me laugh. I would cry because I was afraid he wouldn't remember me, and I would miss out on so much of his life after all we had been through.
The doctor who did the surgery couldn't believe that one biopsy came back bad so he retested all the biopsies. The doctor and pathology department came to the conclusion that the biopsy that came back bad couldn't have come from my body. I was not cleared of the cancer but did not have to have any more chemo.
The pregnancy after that went very quickly with the gestational diabetes. I remember that long incision on my stomach healing as my stomach healed from the second surgery. The doctor from Madison had agreed to come to where I lived when I delivered the baby. He felt it would be a good time to do a second cancer search, hysterectomy and deliver my son. We had it all planned out, but our son had plans too. He decided to come a week sooner than scheduled. The surgery room had about 12 doctors and nurses. The doctor had arranged for me to be awake for the birth. I saw my son, and I remember crying. He was fine and crying - music to my ears. I remember the pain I felt when he was doing the search for cancer. I felt like he was taking his hand and pulling my insides out. I told the doctor, and he said he would put me to sleep.
I was so drugged up but I remember them wheeling me down to NICU to see Josh that night. I didn't get to hold him. His lungs were premature, and he needed oxygen. I thought about all we had been through, and I knew he would be fine. He was a survivor, winner and a fighter. The second cancer searched showed no cancer.
I went home after about five days, and my son came home the next day. He is four now, blonde hair, green eyes, smart, and full of the dickens. I have cancer free for almost five years. We have been blessed with so much. I have two beautiful boys that I have been fortunate enough to stay home with them and watch them grow. My faith in God has grown stronger. There is a God, and I see him every time I look at my two miracles.
If you've been diagnosed with cancer during your pregnancy, please visit the Pregnant With Cancer website.