In May 2007, I discovered that the lump in my left breast, which I had noticed a year earlier, felt bigger and harder. (Back in '06, my gynecologist thought it was a harmless cyst. I was 27 and had no family history of breast cancer.) A few days later, after a mammogram and an ultrasound, a specialist confirmed it was cancer. I couldn't believe it; I had just run a marathon and was in the best shape of my life. When I learned the cancer was aggressive and had spread to three lymph nodes, I sobbed in disbelief.
The next weeks were a blur. I had MRIs, CT scans, a bone scan to see if the cancer had invaded my bones and organs (luckily, it hadn't), and a scan to make sure my heart could withstand chemotherapy. I faced six months of chemo and then possibly a mastectomy and radiation.
The hospital gave me a pregnancy test before my scans; it came back negative. My husband, Dustin, and I had been trying to conceive, but I was relieved. My doctors said that if it was positive, I'd have to end the pregnancy; treatment, which I needed to start immediately, wouldn't be safe for a fetus until after the first trimester.
But my period never came, so two weeks later, I took an at-home pregnancy test. It was positive! I wanted to be excited, but I was terrified. Friends suggested that I get a second opinion. We happened to be moving from Cleveland to Columbus, Ohio, and that's how we met Charles Shapiro, M.D., at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Care Center. He told us we could keep the pregnancy while treating the cancer with little risk to the fetus.