It'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