When the Mother’s Life Hangs in the Balance

When a woman discovers she’s pregnant, cancer is usually the last thing on her mind. But there’s a growing number of women who are being diagnosed with cancer while pregnant. Many doctors will advise abortion in an effort to save the mother’s life. But Elyce Cardonick, founder of the Cancer and Pregnancy Registry, is seeing more and more success with mothers choosing to keep their babies and delay cancer treatment until the second trimester.

One mother whose story had a happy outcome was Michelle Kingsfield. After 12 weeks into her second pregnancy, Michelle was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The doctors gave Michelle a good prognosis, but the future of her baby was unknown. Michelle briefly considered having an abortion, but ultimately she didn’t have to make that choice. After six rounds of chemo, Michelle delivered a beautiful baby boy and was declared cancer free.

Even though there has been success treating pregnant women who have cancer, not all cases have a positive outcome. In September of 2010, Clint Council and his wife Jessica found out they were pregnant with their second child. But their happiness was soon halted when Jessica was diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer and given a slim chance at survival. As opposed to aborting her baby to try and increase her survival odds, Jessica chose to try and carry her baby as far along as she could. Jessica made it until February 5. Shortly after Jessica slipped into a coma, the doctors chose to deliver her baby. Though Jessica is gone, Clint and his family continue to cope and looking at baby Jessie is a comforting reminder of Jessica’s selfless sacrifice.

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