A Different Kind of Nine Months: Lymphoma While Pregnant

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"Share Your Story" Spotlight, By: Michele Owen

When I was 39 I became pregnant with my second child. Straight away I felt ill but attributed it to being 10 years older during this pregnancy than my last. As the weeks went on I felt worse and worse. I was exhausted all the time, I couldn't breathe, and I was getting a weird numb feeling in my right arm. My breathing was thought to be asthma, and I was told the numb feeling was a trapped nerve. I was also losing a lot of weight. Things just got worse until one night, when I was about 23 weeks pregnant, I phoned Accident & Emergency because I could not breathe and I thought I was having a heart attack.

I was admitted into hospital where they completed many tests but could not figure out what was wrong with me. They did tell me, however, that there was a large shadow on my left lung! After two weeks in the hospital and two biopsies later, they decided to move me to the University Hospital of Wales. There I had yet another biopsy before they told me that I had a large, 12-centimeter mass in my chest and that it was Hodgkin's lymphoma.

After meeting with my fantastic consultant I was told that I had the choice - either deliver at 26 weeks or start my chemotherapy while pregnant, but either way I needed chemo straight away! After a lot of soul searching and a lot of talks with my doctor, I decided to go ahead with the chemo until I reached 32 weeks, and then they would deliver the baby. I had two cycles of chemo over the next few weeks, and I had scans twice weekly to make sure that the baby was still growing. She was a little fighter!

Katie was delivered on July 29 by C-section at 32 weeks. She weighed four pounds and four ounces. I got the quickest look at her before she was whisked away to SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit). The next day was my 40th birthday, and I got the best present I could ever ask for - being able to hold my newborn Katie. I started the next round of chemo the following week, about five days after my C-section.

Katie and I left the hospital together when she was just eight days old. She was such a fighter! I won't pretend it wasn't hard because it was incredibly difficult, but I went on to have the rest of my chemo, then radiotherapy, and now I'm seven years clear! Katie is a happy, healthy child with no obvious side effects of everything she went through, so for me this was definitely the right decision.

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