"If you want to keep your breast, you'll have to get rid of your baby. If you want to keep your baby, you’ll have to get rid of the breast". This was the recommendation of my doctor. It was early in my pregnancy that I noticed dimpling in my right breast. At first, I didn't think anything of it. As my pregnancy progressed, the dimpling grew worse and was becoming more noticeable.
I went to an already-scheduled appointment with my primary care physician, but I forgot to let him know about the dimpling in my right breast. I wasn't in any pain and I didn't feel any lumps, so I continued with my daily activities.
It was time for me to make my first appointment with my ob/gyn. I was around eight weeks pregnant at the time. While I was at the appointment, I remembered to inform her about the change I noticed in my right breast. She immediately let me know that I was going to have to get a mammogram. At my mammogram appointment, I could tell from the doctor's face, something wasn't right. She let me know that I was going to need to get a biopsy. I must admit that I wasn't too concerned because I didn’t know of anyone in my family who had breast cancer at that time. A few days later, my ob/gyn called me with the results. She informed me that it was cancer. I was a little shocked and I didn't believe it. She gave me the number to call the surgical oncologist's office and make an appointment. It was during that time that I had to make the decision whether I was going to abort my baby or keep my breast. The pathology report showed that the tumors were hormone-dependent and that I had invasive ductal carcinoma HER-2 negative ER/PR positive. Due to the hormone dependency, I was told that it was as if I had gasoline in my body to fuel the tumors because of my pregnancy.
I put my trust in God and I made the decision to keep my baby. I wanted to have a lumpectomy. Nevertheless, because of my circumstances, I had to get a radical mastectomy while I was pregnant. I also had 21 lymph nodes removed. And because 6 lymph nodes tested positive, my staging was 3A.
At 24 weeks pregnant, I began chemo. After 2 cycles of chemo, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and had to deliver my daughter while I was 30 weeks pregnant. I stayed in the hospital for about 20 days and my daughter was in the NICU for 52 days. Three weeks after delivering my daughter, I began chemo again. I finished chemo and then completed 31 rounds of radiation.
I'm thankful to God that I made it through. Being diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant has definitely been a journey for me.