Pregnant Woman Refuses Cancer Treatment to Save Her Baby

Inspiring 15

pregnantIt's a question no one wants to answer but thousands of women must -- what do you do when you're pregnant and have cancer at the same time? Jo Powell recently was forced to do so when after years of trying for a baby, she and her husband, Richard, became pregnant, only to be told days later that she had breast cancer.

According to The Sun, doctors advised her to terminate the pregnancy as pregnancy hormones could make the cancer more aggressive, but she was determined to keep the baby and to protect him as best she could, even though it meant risking her own life. Instead of starting treatment right away, she insisted they wait until he was nearly full-term. She told the paper, "Richard and I had been trying for a baby for years so I knew we couldn't give up on our baby. There was no way I was going to sacrifice him.”

Doctors agreed to postpone her treatments for almost six months, but then operated to remove tumors. Eventually they gave her small doses of chemotherapy.

While her son was born healthy in 2010, Jo immediately had to undergo a mastectomy that was followed by life-threatening complications and a lengthy hospitalization. Eventually, slowly though she recovered and grew stronger.

It was a risky move, and one that easily could have ended tragically, but it didn't. Instead it ended in what she says is a miracle.

Today she has the family she always dreamed of, and both she and Jake are healthy and happy. Recently she learned that she is cancer free, needs no further treatment, and doctors believe the cancer won't return. She told the paper:

I feel like we’ve won the lottery. Jake is such a happy little boy. He is so bright and cheery. I look at him now and I know the hell we went through for him was worth it.

Interestingly, new research has come to light recently that shows chemotherapy during pregnancy won't harm an unborn baby. Still, it would be difficult even with that to make the choice to undergo it. I had a hard enough time deciding if I would risk eating feta cheese. But hopefully, as more research is done, more women will be armed with more facts to help make one of the most difficult choices ever a little easier.

Would you treat your cancer while pregnant?


Image via one tiny spark/Flickr

baby prep, complications, is it safe


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Pinkmani Pinkmani

Good for her! They may say now that chemotherapy won't harm the baby, but then a few years from know someone is going to find out that they are wrong. It happens all the time. Look how many times the FDA recalls someting.

nonmember avatar Megan

Chemo is poison. Granted, it saves lives, but it's poison to any body. I wonder though how much actually crosses the placenta to baby. Some babies of positive maternal toxoplasmosis, have parasites swimming all around in their sac yet test negative for any found in their personal blood system. It would be interesting to know the actual science of what is passed to baby.
Also, since sugars are known to make cancer more aggressive, pregnant women become a little more insulin resistant in that time and have more sugar floating around in their system, I wonder if that could also contribute to to worsening cancers in pregnancy (on top of all the growth hormones). Interesting article, got my wheels turning!

Torra... TorranceMom

HELL no! Julie, have you ever seen anyone undergo chemotherapy? I have and it's absolutely brutal. I would never do that to a baby.

bills... billsfan1104

Torrance. I have been through Chemo and I wouldnt wish that on my worst enemy.

Torra... TorranceMom


Glad you're still with us, Friend.

Teresa Branda

im so happy it was a happy ending for all of you and i would have done the same thing to save my baby

mcr17 mcr17

What an incredibly stupid thing to do.

nonmember avatar payne

My mom had cev. Cancer when pregant with me right after i was born the docs toke out everything.

nonmember avatar kristi

i would do the same thing i know that chemo is a type of radiation treatment and xrays are radioactive as well and if an xray can harm a baby with smaller amounts of radiation then how could chemo be okay with more radiation than an xray?

Melissa Standridge

I barely survived chemo when I was younger. I would never do that to a baby.

1-10 of 15 comments 12 Last