New protocol for pregnant moms with breast cancer: don't abort

linda2.jpg Chicago Tribune, today:

Like most new moms, Linda Sanchez couldn't take her eyes off her newborn daughter....

But the biggest marvel was that Isabella Marie Sanchez came into the world at all. She is the latest baby born to a breast cancer patient who was treated with chemotherapy while pregnant. It took a pioneering Houston program to make the birth possible....

Isabella became the 70th baby born under a University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center program that once was controversial, but which last year formed the basis of the first national guidelines for the treatment of pregnant women with breast cancer. Until this program, women with cancer who learned they were pregnant were told to abort.

That's what Sanchez, 27, was told last spring after she learned in a span of a few days that she was pregnant and that she had breast cancer. She found her way to the M.D. Anderson program....

Isabella was delivered with a full head of hair, a trademark of babies born in the program and a sign the chemotherapy doesn't have the toxic effect on them that leaves their mothers bald.

Sanchez will resume chemotherapy next week, then have surgery. She had six rounds of one therapy, then was off treatment for 71/2 weeks before Monday's delivery. Ultrasounds showed the cancer, which has shrunk to about one-third its original size, didn't increase during that time....

The diagnosis of cancer in pregnant women is rare, but oncologists believe the numbers are growing as more women put off childbearing until their 30s and 40s, the age when the risk starts growing. Estimates put the number of pregnancies among women with breast cancer at 1 in 3,000; among women with any form of cancer, at 1 in 1,000.

Most of the women who come to M.D. Anderson had doctors who recommended terminating their pregnancies.

gibson2.jpgGlad to see Charles Gibson and ABC News ran the story last night. Gibson added this:

"Yes, chemotherapy is toxic. But what we have found is that when given in the second or third trimesters it appears to be safe," said Dr. Jennifer Litton, breast oncologist at the MD Anderson Cancer center.

Still gotta ask, why are 27-year-olds, and women in the 30s and 40s, getting breast cancer? That's a topic I'd also like to see MSM cover.

[HT: reader Rosie]


Comments:

Just to underline again that last statement:

Most of the women who come to M.D. Anderson had doctors who recommended terminating their pregnancies.

"It was a picture-perfect delivery," said Dr. Mildred Ramirez,"

Linda Sanchez and her baby, Isabella Marie, are living proofs that the right CHOICE is LIFE. Life for the baby, life for the mother.

Posted by: Paul at November 29, 2007 6:05 PM


One of my best friends JUST had her baby, after going through chemotherapy throughout her whole pregnancy. She found out she had Hodgkin's Lymphoma when she was only about 7 weeks along. The nurse recommended that she have a "therapeutic abortion" but my friend would not do it! The doctors warned her that her baby may end up with a cleft palate, or could have some other defects that they didn't even know about. She refused. Just last week, she delivered a 7 and a half pound BEAUTIFUL baby girl, with absolutely NO harm whatsoever to her. She is gorgeous. My friend is a testimony to women out there everywhere.
And so is Linda Sanchez!!!

Posted by: Bethany at November 29, 2007 6:08 PM


If you are a woman who is pregnant, and has recently found out you have cancer, please, please check out this website, Pregnant with Cancer. From their site:

"The Pregnant with Cancer Network is a national non-profit organization for women diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy. Our mission is to connect women who are pregnant with cancer with other women who have been pregnant with the same type of cancer. These women are here to lend support, offer hope and share their experiences with one another through phone and e-mail conversation."

My friend who I just mentioned, was able to find a woman, who had gone through her exact same situation, and had delivered a healthy baby boy....and my friend was able to have her as a support during her entire pregnancy. I think this website offers a wonderful service for women, who might not otherwise know what to do, or what to expect during pregnancy and going through chemotherapy.

Posted by: Bethany at November 29, 2007 6:12 PM


Bethany, thanks for sharing your friend's story. May God bless her for her courage and love, and may He heal her, and bless her baby, the father, and the family. Someone should do a (news) story on her!

Posted by: Paul at November 29, 2007 6:17 PM


Awww, this is a cute story.

Posted by: Erin at November 29, 2007 6:26 PM


I love stories like these!

Bethany, please tell your friend I think she's awesome!!!

This story & Bethany's just goes to show...Dr's. are not always right!

Posted by: AB Laura at November 29, 2007 7:36 PM


I love to read these stories! I have my own little miracle in the form of a 9 year old boy. I was told to abort him when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in Nov. '97 when I was 10 weeks along. When I refused, I was told "Well, if you want to leave your baby here to remember you by..." We went through surgery and chemo together and he arrived at full term in June 1998. I shudder to think what I would have missed out on if I had followed that first doctor's advice! I searched until I found a doctor who said he didn't agree with the other doctors and said he would try to bring us BOTH through it - and he did. Linda Sanchez & Bethany's friend and their babies will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: Patti at November 29, 2007 8:13 PM


Why doesn't chemo have any effect on the fetus?

Posted by: JM at November 30, 2007 12:03 AM


JM, the placenta does do a bit of filtering. I would presume that it filters out some types of chemo drugs.

Though this is old news, it's nice that the MSM is finally catching on.

Posted by: Christina at November 30, 2007 6:29 AM


Until this program, women with cancer who learned they were pregnant were told to abort.

Told. To. Abort.

So much for "choice"...

Posted by: John Jansen at November 30, 2007 9:37 AM


If its what the woman wants then fine and more power to them. But for some women the demands of a pregnancy on top of chemotherapy may be too much. People shouldnt try to make them feel guilty if they decide they dont want to continue the pregnancy.

Posted by: TexasRed at November 30, 2007 3:35 PM


Told. To. Abort.

So much for "choice"...

Telling a woman to abort doesn't take away her choice, as evidenced by this article.

Posted by: Anonymous at November 30, 2007 3:37 PM


Yes, but there are several people who just blindly follow their doctors advice..so if their doctors make them feel as though there is no other choice..that to me is the same thing as forcing someone. Doctors are pretty influential in people's lives. It IS up to the person to expose themselves to ALL the information on a topic..but if I were pregnant and found out at the same time I had breast cancer..I would be so freaked out I wouldn't know how to feel. Doctors should give advice on both sides of the coin.

Posted by: Elizabeth at November 30, 2007 4:04 PM


I don't agree with Elizabeth's conclusion that we blindly follow doctor's advice, most are capable of making an informed decision, if they are given the information or knowledgeable enough to do the research online. And it is human nature to respond in panic in a crisis. But I agree, doctors have a powerful influence in our lives and it is their ethical responsibility to give us all options for treatment (including to carry to term), regardless of whether they personally agree with it or not. And for a doctor to refuse information on these options, or to refuse to continue seeing the patient is taking away her options and rights.

Posted by: Rachael at November 30, 2007 5:59 PM


TexasRed SoMG, and other pro-choicers:
And yet a number of women do choose to carry to term, such as this women did and the support should be out there for them and same could be said that people shouldn't try to make them feel guilty. You'd be surprise (or maybe not) by some of the comments they receive by family members and physicians who refuse to give them further information, treatment options, or even a simple referral to another physician. I'd recommend reading the stories of women who've been faced with a poor prenatal diagnosis or maternal illness before making any judgements on the merits of the decision to carry to term:
http://benotafraid.net/stories.asp
http://www.pregnantwithcancer.org/my_stories/index.shtml
http://nationalshareoffice.com/resources_rights.shtml

Posted by: Rachael at November 30, 2007 6:23 PM


Hi there everyone I am a community ambassador with Pantene Beautiful Lengths and Million Inch Chain, and together we are trying to gather 1 million inches of hair so that we can make them into wigs to give to women that have lost their hair due to chemo treatment. I have lost my father to cancer in 2004, and so that's why this issue is so important to me, and I'm trying to raise awareness, and get people to help in any way possible. That's why I am taking up this cause and trying to give women back the confidence they may have lost during this very stressful time in their lives. It is up to all of you out there to get out and donate your hair to this very worthy organization. If you guys want more information on how you can donate, or pledge to donate your hair then please visit this website and spread the word! http://www.beautifullengths.com/en_US/million_inch/million_inch_qa.jsp

Posted by: Wanda at November 30, 2007 7:16 PM


Rachael,

I happen to know several people who just do what their doctors tell them before checking it out first. I have heard some ridiculous stories of people going off of their doctors advice solely..and getting all messed up. There are people who hold doctors on the same level as God or something, and that is why they specifically follow their advice. Doctors are just like people and make mistakes in diagnosis or treatment..that's why they have so much malpractice insurance. :) I get advice/information from all sources before I make a serious medical decision..some people don't..that's the only point I was trying to make.

Posted by: Elizabeth at November 30, 2007 11:24 PM


I know lots of people who have blindly trusted and followed their doctor's advice. I'm one of those people..but I started researching things for myself later on, and realized I have made several mistakes, by simply believing the doctor knew better than me, because he "knew more about it" than I.
It's very easy to be manipulated by a doctor. One doesn't have to be a stupid person to do that...it's human nature, to think that someone who has studied all those years to be a doctor, might have a better opinion on what to do in any particular medical situation than you yourself, and to follow that advice without researching it first.
It's not an insult to any woman...it's simply that it happens very frequently. I know. I induced all three of my children because the doctor was too lazy to want to let me birth them at the right time (it was more convenient for him to schedule it). He told me that they would be too big to fit through my birth canal if we didn't induce. Turns out, I researched and found later all of the risks ( that I was never informed of) of inducing your child early, and also, that even large babies can be naturally birthed without any problems.
If I could go back, I would tell the doctor no, to all three inductions. I feel that my inductions could possibly be part of the reason why I miscarried later but I will never know for sure.
The point is, women DO put a LOT of trust and faith in what a doctor tells them. Just because you might not, doesn't mean that there aren't Plenty of women out there who will.
Therefore, it is coercion, when a doctor recommends abortion to a woman who has cancer, telling her that the baby will probably be disfigured (even though it's not true), and she does it, based on that strong recommendation. No, it's not forcing, but it is most certainly coercion.

Posted by: Bethany at December 1, 2007 8:41 AM


One of my best friends JUST had her baby, after going through chemotherapy throughout her whole pregnancy. She found out she had Hodgkin's Lymphoma when she was only about 7 weeks along. The nurse recommended that she have a "therapeutic abortion" but my friend would not do it! The doctors warned her that her baby may end up with a cleft palate, or could have some other defects that they didn't even know about. She refused. Just last week, she delivered a 7 and a half pound BEAUTIFUL baby girl, with absolutely NO harm whatsoever to her. She is gorgeous. My friend is a testimony to women out there everywhere.
And so is Linda Sanchez!!!

Posted by: Bethany at November 29, 2007 6:08 PM
..................

You are such a liar.

Posted by: Sally at December 4, 2007 2:11 AM


Um, no, Sally, I am not.

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