Follow-Up Friday: Pregnant with Breast Cancer

On Follow-Up Friday, we revisit one of our memorable patient stories previously featured on Memorial Hermann’s EverydayWell Blog and share an update on their road to recovery.

In August 2015, Marcela Rodriguez noticed a lump on her breast when she was 19 weeks pregnant with her third child. This led to a breast cancer diagnosis when she was 27 weeks pregnant.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is hard enough, but being diagnosed while pregnant made the situation even more devastating for Rodriguez.

“There were so many questions about how this could affect the baby,” she said. “Not only that, but I had to make sure I was considering my own health, as well.”

Dr. Pamela Berens, OB/Gyn at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, had been Rodriguez’s doctor for over a decade, delivering her first two children.

Rodriguez credits Dr. Berens as being a key person who helped her through the whole process, suggesting that she visit Dr. Anneliese Gonzalez, UTHealth oncologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-Texas Medical Center.

Rodriguez wasn’t sure if she could even get chemotherapy while pregnant. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is found in about one in every 3,000 pregnant women. Treatment recommendations depend on things such as the size of the tumor, where the tumor is located and how far along a woman is in her pregnancy.

Rodriguez had a single mastectomy on Oct. 28, 2015, and her first chemotherapy session on Nov. 30, 2015, when she was 35 weeks pregnant. A little over two weeks later, Marcela delivered a healthy baby girl, Marlowe, weighing 7 pounds, 12 ounces.

After Marlowe was born, Rodriguez finished her treatments and her cancer went into remission. Rodriguez calls Marlowe her “miracle baby.”

Marlowe is a healthy little girl who will be two years old in December. She loves singing, talking to people and she has a smile ready at all times.

“My experience with cancer has taught me the different languages of love and that each person speaks their love differently,” Rodriguez said. “It was hard to let people help me at first, but I realized how important it was to them and also to me. Letting go and allowing others to help was a learning experience. Now I realize that I couldn’t have done this without the people I love.”

Rodriguez still sees Dr. Gonzalez every three months for routine follow-ups. She sees Dr. Berens once a year.

“I am now at a point where I am really assessing my life,” Rodriguez said. “I want to do things that make me happy. As I look to the future, I am excited knowing that the possibilities are truly endless.”

To read more about Rodriguez’s story, click here. To learn more about breast cancer treatment or to schedule an appointment, click here.

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Tashika Varma