This page will give you a summary of my entire journey from beginning to present. I am currently in remission after delivering a healthy baby boy. I’ve completed all of my cancer treatment!
Throughout much of the first trimester of my pregnancy, I had a lingering cough that would not go away. I thought it was allergies, so I procrastinated going to the doctor, thinking the cough would eventually go away. By the end of the first trimester, the cough turned into a powerful, spastic cough. I coughed so hard I actually fractured a rib. After several doctor visits and prescriptions thinking I had asthma, allergies, and a sinus infection, I finally caved and heeded my doctor’s advice to get an x-ray. The results of the x-ray led to a CT scan, which led to a biopsy, which led to my diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (specifically primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma) at 22 weeks pregnant on November 28, 2017. Read the full details of how my symptoms started and how I was ultimately diagnosed here.
Primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma is treatable, but it is also an aggressive form of cancer. I had a 16cm mass on top of my left lung, pushing against my heart, major airways and blood vessels. My oncologist said I needed to start chemotherapy treatment right away as I was at risk of the mass suffocating my airways and blood vessels. Five days after being diagnosed, I started R-CHOP chemotherapy. I was to have six treatments total every three weeks, with the goal to deliver after four treatments at approximately 35-36 weeks pregnant.
I was very fortunate that each round of chemo was mostly uneventful. I had minimal reactions to the drugs, and aside from hair loss and “chemo brain”, no major side effects. I did not have much fatigue and had no nausea, so I was able to continue working full-time up until delivery (though I had to start working from home to protect my immune system). I did have one bout of neutropenic fever and spent seven nights in the hospital.
Read about each of my chemo treatments in detail here:
I had to make several lifestyle changes during my treatment as I was immunocompromised. My husband Roberto shouldered much of the parenting responsibilities with our first born, Camila. Since she was in daycare, we were always paranoid she would bring home germs that could make me sick. Couple this with a strong flu season and we were even more paranoid. I wore a face mask, we kept Purell all over the house, we used Clorox and Lysol on our common areas daily, washed hands constantly, I never went to public places except the doctor, the list could go on.
At 36 weeks and 2 days pregnant after four chemo treatments, I was induced and delivered a healthy baby boy. Joel was born on March 6, 2018, weighing 6 lbs. 13 oz. and measuring 19″ long. It is possible his B-cell counts could be low due to my diagnosis, but this is expected to normalize by the time he’s six months old.
Six days after I delivered, I had a PET scan. The PET scan showed negative for cancer cells. After four chemo treatments, I was in remission! I completed my last two rounds of chemo and finished chemo on April 5, 2018 while I was still on maternity leave.
To reduce the chances of my cancer reoccurring, I completed 17 rounds of radiation in May 2018. I finished radiation and thus all of my cancer treatment on May 25, 2018. It also happened to be the last week of my maternity leave! I’m now back at work, settling into my new life with two kids that keep me busy!