Is This Good News for Pregnant Cancer Patients?

Imagine going into the hospital and finding out that you have stage two breast cancer—and that you might be pregnant—on the same day.

That's what happened to 34-year-old Adele Rivas, who in the midst of both joy and fear, had to consider how to go forward with treatment, according to a report from ABC News. Adele and her husband Luis consulted with doctors and decided to continue with the pregnancy, while at the same time undergo a painful treatment plan that included a mastectomy in her first trimester and chemo in the following two. She opted against reconstructive surgery during the mastectomy, as it would have increased the threat of miscarriage.

After four months of chemotherapy, according to ABC, Adele was weak and had lost her hair, but she says her husband kept her strong. And about two months later, she gave birth to a healthy—and robust, at over 8 pounds—son.

"I can't imagine not having him here," Adele told ABC News. "We don't know why our prayers were answered in such a strange way. Maybe I can be a model of strength for other people."

And the Rivas' story may not just provide strength—but it also might just be a road map of what is actually possible, and safe, during pregnancy: Two small studies cited in HealthDay this week suggest that children whose mothers had chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer during their pregnancies do not have a higher chance of mental development or heart issues, despite some doctors' concerns over such possibilities.

"Fear about the risks of chemotherapy administration should not be a reason to terminate a pregnancy, delay cancer treatment for the mother, or to deliver a baby prematurely," said study author Belgian doctor Frederic Amant.

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Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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