Pregnant with Breast Cancer: Marcela’s Story

In August 2015, Marcela Rodriguez was 19 weeks pregnant with her third child when she noticed a lump on her breast.

“I honestly didn’t think much of it at first,” Marcela said. “But I decided to mention it to my OB/Gyn the next time I was at the clinic.”

Rodriguez’s mention of the lump led to an early detection of breast cancer. She was 27 weeks pregnant at the time of diagnosis. “Honestly, I was in shock,” Rodriguez said. “There are days that it can be difficult just being pregnant. Adding cancer to the mix created unbelievable amounts of stress.

Rodriguez called a family meeting to let everyone know what she was going through. “They thought I was going to be announcing twins or something exciting,” said Rodriguez. “There were so many questions about how this could affect the baby, and 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.

“These situations are always tough and usually occur in younger women,” said Dr. Berens. “I wanted to give Marcela as much positive support as I could, not only as a physician but also as a friend. The goal is to treat her as quickly as we can while having the least possible effect on the pregnancy.”

Rodriguez credits Dr. Berens as being a key person who helped her through the whole process and suggested that she visit  Anneliese Gonzalez, M.D., 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 the pregnancy is.

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Chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy and radiation can all potentially harm the fetus if given during pregnancy, although studies have shown that certain chemotherapy drugs used during the second and third trimesters don’t raise the risk of birth defects, stillbirths, or heart problems but may increase the risk of early delivery. Chemotherapy is not safe early on in the pregnancy because the baby’s internal organs develop during the first trimester.

“We want to make sure that we don’t under treat the patient in these situations,” said Dr. Gonzalez. “We try to do the surgery first because it’s not risky for the pregnancy. It’s better if we can do the chemotherapy treatments later because we want to give the baby the least exposure to medications as possible.”

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Rodriguez had a single mastectomy on Oct. 28, 2015, and her first chemotherapy session on Nov.30, 2015, when she was 35 weeks pregnant. On Dec. 17, 2015, Marcela delivered a healthy baby girl, Marlowe, weighing 7 pounds, 12 ounces.

“Holding Marlowe in my arms and seeing how healthy she was – it was the biggest weight lifted,” Rodriguez said. “Having cancer and being pregnant at the same time made me overanalyze every move the baby made during pregnancy.”

Rodriguez said that a common question she got from friends was if the baby would be born with no hair because of the chemotherapy. Not to worry, Marlowe was born with a full head of hair.

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Since having Marlowe, Rodriguez has finished her treatments and her cancer is in remission. Marlowe is a perfectly healthy nine-month-old. Rodriguez calls Marlowe her “miracle baby.”

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To learn more about breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, visit here.

Comments

  1. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits…who forgives all our sins and heals all your diseases (Psalm 103:2-3) Bless the doctors, nurses and everyone who helped.

  2. our GOD is awesome he can move mountains, hide us from the rain you, there is always rainbows 🙂

  3. With tears of joy in my eyes I am truly touched by this story. We serve an awesome God and I am happy that mom and baby are doing well. May the Lord our God continue to bless this beautiful family. Thanks to the MH staff and affiliates for all that you do to provide excellent health care to our patients. Your service and dedication is truly appreciated.

  4. A victorious challenge. Thank you for sharing . Wishing the best and have a vibrant life.

  5. Awesome God! Bless the Doctors, and may Marcella and her family continue to live in good health.

  6. Glory to our Mighty God for he has done marvelous work in you and your family. May he continue to bless you and your family.

  7. What an amazing and uplifting story! God is good all the time and I an so thankful that you shared you story. May God continue to bless and keep you and family.

  8. You are truly amazing woman but know that God has a greater purpose for your life enjoy your babies most of all tell other how great God is.

  9. I am so happy for you and your family. My mother was pregnant with me over 60 years ago and had breast cancer. We did not have the treatments or the fantastic doctors we have now. She did not make it to my 3rd birthday so I never got a chance to know her. I wish you many happy years with your family.

  10. Your family if marvelous,
    May God bring you and your beautiful family many Blessings and Happiness always.

  11. Such an amazing testimony!

    To God be glory for how He worked His marvelous hand through it ALL!

  12. Amen, all glory to God! Father God in the name of Jesus i lift up Marcela in prayer, i decree and declare Isaiah 53:5 by Jesus stripes she is heal from cancer and never to come back, in Jesus name.. amen!

  13. Amazing Story !! This is the season for blessings and miracles…. Continue to keep the Faith and Praise the Lord with your whole heart…. I just have to shout Glory for healing in Jesus name !!!!

  14. Thank you for inspiring us, sometimes we complain about the little things and we forget that other people are going through so much more. May god shower you and your family with a lot of strength, faith and love. God is great and he does not give us any burdens that we can’t handle. I wish you many blessings.

  15. To God be the glory! What the enemy planned for destruction, God works for the good! (Romans 8:28) What an amazing testimony and prayers for Marcela that her cancer will remain in remission.

  16. Very inspiring story , it is a blessing to have a healthy baby girl and to be in remission…..Amen , May God be with you and watch over you

  17. Jehovah God works in mysterious ways, thanks for sharing your story for others to read and know that we all have a purpose in this life. May you continue to be blessed with your miracle baby. ????

  18. Marcela’s testimony is a huge inspiration. I met her earlier this year after my breast cancer diagnosis. Her warm smile and positive spirit are heart warming. Marlowe is a precious miracle!

  19. Thank u Lord for the two blessings that u have gave to us we are grateful to u for Marcella an marlowe. Hallelujah Hallelujah

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Tashika Varma