When the Mother’s Life Hangs in the Balance

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When a woman discovers she’s pregnant, cancer is usually the last thing on her mind. But a growing number of women are being diagnosed with cancer while pregnant. Many doctors 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 when mothers choose to keep their babies and delay cancer treatment until the second trimester.

One mother whose story had a happy outcome was Michelle Kingsfield. Twelve 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 an abortion but ultimately didn’t have to make that choice. After six rounds of chemotherapy, Michelle delivered a beautiful baby boy and was declared cancer free.

Not all cases have a positive outcome. In September 2010, Clint Council and his wife, Jessica, learned they were pregnant with their second child. Their happiness was halted when Jessica was diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer and given a slim chance at survival. Instead of aborting her baby to try to increase her own odds of survival, Jessica chose to carry her baby as long as possible. She made it to February 5. Shortly after she slipped into a coma, doctors delivered her baby. Baby Jessie is a comforting reminder of her mother’s selfless sacrifice.

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