Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Jen Arnold, whose TLC reality show “The Little Couple” chronicles her and her husband’s life living with dwarfism, is opening up about a cancer diagnosis that she received while traveling to India to finalize adoption papers on the couple’s daughter. The Arnolds had struggled with infertility treatments before ultimately adopting a son from China and a daughter from India–both children with different forms of dwarfism. More from PEOPLE.com:
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Back in Houston, Arnold, a neonatologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, was diagnosed with stage 3 choriocarcinoma, a rare cancer that began with a non-viable pregnancy (the embryo had no heartbeat) she suffered in September.
“The one time I get pregnant,” Arnold says ruefully, “I get cancer.”
When a cancerous mass in her uterus didn’t initially respond to chemotherapy, her doctors decided to perform a hysterectomy.
“We wanted to avoid surgery in her case because of her shortened airway and the difficulties she has had in the past with surgeries,” says Dr. Concepcion R. Diaz-Arrastia, director of gynecology oncology at Baylor College of Medicine, who is treating Arnold. “But we felt we had no choice. The disease was not responding to chemotherapy. We had to do this in order to save her life.”
Her doctor also did extensive research and contacted specialists around the country to calculate the appropriate dosage of chemotherapy for Arnold, who has a form of dwarfism.
“I called oncologists in Los Angeles, Baltimore, New York, Houston,” says Dr. Arrastia, “and no one had experience with treating this type of cancer in a person with skeletal dysplasia. It was a very rare cancer, rare that it was found in a little person … a very rare situation.”