The Call – Pregnant with Cancer
“It looks like it’s some type of lymphoma,” the surgeon says on the phone on a Thursday at 5:00 PM. Cancer. Pregnant with cancer.
Um, say what now? So many thoughts flash through my mind as she handed me over the oncologist’s reception desk to schedule my appointment with him on MONDAY. Four freaking days away, which feels like forever. Those would turn our to be the worst four days of my life. I call my husband first, sobbing. “It’s cancer,” I say. He doesn’t believe me. It’s actually quite unbelievable. The news is numbing. It feels surreal. I am so sickeningly frightened I can’t even deal with it. I would soon hear the term Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma for the first time.
Did I mention that I have a 4 and 6 year old? Oh, and I’m nearly 4 months pregnant. Pregnant with cancer. This is my crisis. We all have them. They come in different forms. Life changing circumstances. Mine comes in the form of cancer. Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma cancer.
The weekend is so dang long. Monday afternoon seems eons away. Hot Hubs and I go for a walk on the beach. We cry. He says things like, “I can remember my mom at five year old,” in order to make me realize that should I die my boys won’t forget me. We google. Please, if you are going to a cancer diagnosis but are still unclear on the details, stay away from Dr. Google. Google says breast lymphoma patients have a poor 5 year prognosis. I am certain I am going to die. I just hope I live long enough to have this baby.
The Diagnosis Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma
Monday arrives. Finally! I feel dread and hope as I sit in the waiting room with my mom and Hot Hubs. We all go in and the oncologist, MY oncologist because now I have an oncologist, tells me that the preliminary report from my biopsy states that I have Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. He quickly goes on to say that it has a high cure rate, especially among the young, which feels well, nice. I felt some hope, though I was also quick to think that some people aren’t cured. Some people don’t get better.
I will need to get some imaging done, and will need a bone marrow biopsy. The doctor uses a hand drill and drills into your hip bone from the back side. Sometimes they will sedate you for this procedure, but not if you’re pregnant. Doesn’t that just sound like a super fun day in the park? Oh, and guess what? When you’re pregnant they don’t recommend being shot with radiation, therefore traditional (and quick) CT and PET scans are a no-no. When you’re pregnant you get a full body MRI. That takes approximately one single lifetime. But…it yields a really cool shot of the baby, as you can see.
My oncologist is amazing, like super smart but still nice amazing. He is a small town doc, and he really knows his stuff. He calls at 7:00 in the evening to say that he’s gone over the report with the radiologist and that the cancer has not spread. Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. Stage 1AE. Stage 1 meaning it’s only in one quadrant of my body, A meaning I had no symptoms, and E meaning it is extranodal, or not in my lymph nodes.
Are you do you know someone who is pregnant with cancer?
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Wow! Breathtaking portrayal of what you went through. Thank you for being brave enough to share this story.