I kept my baby and took cancer by the balls
My story, unfortunately, starts off like so many others. I was 35, Latina and looked healthy, but I was overlooked and neglected by doctors because of my age and lack of family history.
I found a lump in April 2016. I was sent away with a “You’re too young, it’s nothing” THREE times. ; months had now passed. My original 1.5 cm, a bean sized tumor (they said was nothing but felt it and measured it) had grown to 5cm, the size of a lemon.
At this time I didn’t know it was cancer. What I knew was: it’s bigger, it hurts, it’s burning me from the inside, like little bubbles of acid.
I requested to see a surgeon to have them cut it out. I had a mammogram in May and they told me it was nothing to worry about…just dense fatty tissue!
Amen! I was so happy!
The surgeon asked “What is it?”
“Dense fatty tissue” I said.
The surgeon asked, “Can I biopsy it?”
I had the hospital look at all of my medical records again. Looking back and knowing I had cancer, they still didn’t see it in my first mammogram. My dense fatty tissue was hiding it! They should have done a sonogram, but they didn’t — because I WAS TOO YOUNG!
I remember my biopsy day because I had my coworker with me thinking it was nothing, we were laughing and joking and it was the first time she’d seen my boobs. She’s asked to see them before... hahaha! I had GREAT boobs.
I went to Disneyland with my eight-year-old son and on the way home, I got a call from my doctor. She asked if I was sitting down and I was because I was driving home — a seven hour drive alone with my kiddo.
The doctor told me the words you never want to hear, “It’s cancer.”
I couldn’t cry.
I couldn’t react.
I couldn’t scream.
I couldn’t breathe.
I was driving and it was just me and my son. I didn’t want to scare him.
The surgeon said come in tomorrow morning...so I did.
I knew nothing about cancer. I knew nobody with cancer. My surgeon had to draw me a picture!
I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer August 1, 2016.
And August 5, 2016, I was told I was three to four weeks pregnant.
A roller coaster of emotions is the only way I can describe it.
Not only had I just found out I had cancer, I knew nobody personally who had cancer — I knew nothing!
I had so many life plans and goals, not just for me. I’m not alone. I have a husband, Tony, and an 8-year-old son, Alexander, and now I guess what? I’m pregnant!
What am I supposed to do? I’m happy. I'm scared. I’m worried. I’m hopeful.
I went to many second opinions looking for reassurance and you know what I found? SEVEN (yep, seven) medical professionals told me, “You need to terminate your pregnancy. Abort the baby so we can save you!”
The air was knocked out of me.
This was all too much in a span of four days to deal with.
How can this be?
I understand science: the baby might die, I might miscarry, chemo might kill the fetus...but wait, it’s my choice!
I refused. We were in this together. WE absolutely refused!
I reached out to my loved ones and told them all to scour the internet for information, data, anything. They did, we did, I found what I needed: baby can live with chemo. I could live with chemo being pregnant. It will work. In comes my oncologist who believed in me, in us, in this baby.
Without hesitation, she said, “I can do this! You will live to see this baby and Alexander grow! I have a plan of action!”
September 16 was my mastectomy. I was eight to nine weeks pregnant at the time .October 21 was my first chemo. I was in the second trimester, 14 weeks pregnant). I did 15 rounds of chemo pregnant. Then the baby was born healthy, five weeks early and I had one more chemo after this: 16 total rounds of chemo. A month later: 34 sessions of radiation.
I thought it’s all over. I’m alive. My baby is healthy. Then comes the worry and anxiety.
While you’re on active treatment, you are on a mission to kill cancer. The time after treatment, there’s no more weekly appointments. There’s no more weekly check-ins. You are stressed out that nobody’s helping keep you alive. The worry and anxiety are REAL!!
I had reconstruction eight months later. I needed time to just be.with family and kids. I did DIEP on the left side and currently have two to three more surgeries to go.
Right now, I’m just loving myself, my life and family.
I am not mad at cancer. I forgive cancer. I didn’t lose myself during it all. That might be really hard for some people to understand but right now I am happy and that doesn’t come easy. I’m not naïve, being positive is a conscious daily decision that I choose to make. Being positive got me through this.
I’m stage 3c
Tumor was 11.5 cm (a large mango)
They removed 24 lymph nodes, 14 were cancerous
I now have lymphedema in my arm; it’s painful and uncomfortable but manageable.
You know what else?
My son and baby girl are healthy, gorgeous, and wild! My Zoe just turned 2 (March 11th) and we’re just trying to live it out.
When I was first diagnosed, my perception of somebody with cancer was that they were going to die. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to live. Our perspective is we’re going to live with this as long as we can.
My attitude has always been:
“If I have cancer, get on my back bitch, wherever I go, you go!”
“Let’s do this! I got this.”
I don’t let it (cancer) hold me back from living MY WAY!
Good luck girls — it gets better!
Special thanks to the support of my family and friends. I have an incredible support system — second to NONE!
I do believe that my friends and family helped get me through this. Even strangers were praying for me and I believe that their prayers took off the burden of worry from my shoulders.
I wish everyone had this kind of support. I pray one day I can be as good of a friend as they were to me!