I was 25 when my husband and I got pregnant with our first child. Several of my friends were pregnant too, and I was delighted that I would get to share this experience with them. I was so lucky at the beginning, because I didn’t get sick at all. It was easy!
That was good because I was an incredibly busy kindergarten teacher and felt like I had something to prove since I was young. The first trimester passed with relatively few troubles. The only thing out of the ordinary was a small bump we had found near my collarbone. Probably lymph tissue, but no one seemed to concerned so I tried not to be. After 3 weeks on antibiotics, it was still there and starting to cause more worry. But I was busy, so it just got pushed to the back burner.
A few months later I was visiting a doctor for my eyes. His brother happened to be an ENT and when he saw my lump, he told me that I should go and get it checked out by a specialist, so I did. The specialist did a fine needle biopsy which had inconclusive results; we followed up with a full biopsy and the results were devastating. At 24 weeks along, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Cancer! I was too young for that!
Those first few weeks of diagnosis were incredibly difficult. Lots and lots of testing; some of it was quite painful. Each day we hoped for the best and we kept pushing through, but the fear consumed us in our quiet moments. No mother-to-be should ever have to wonder if she’s going to be around to watch her baby grow up. As days passed we learned that the cancer had already advanced to “Stage 3.” It was everywhere but my bone marrow. We had to make a choice. Start chemo right away or deliver early and start as soon as possible. We listened, we prayed, we cried some more. We decided that we would wait until I was 34 weeks to deliver and then start chemo.
The hardest part was watching all my friends — the same friends I had been delighted to share pregnancy with. It seemed things were perfect for them. I remember visiting my best friend the day she had her baby. I was so happy for her, but I was incredibly jealous of how easy things seemed. I cried myself to sleep that night, and I can still feel that hurt in my heart to this day.
But blessings came to me too, although I was still working through the trials. At 34 weeks I delivered a healthy baby boy, who we named Caleb Roy. In fact, though he was 6 weeks early he weighed 6 lbs at birth! He spent 2 weeks in the NICU, but came home as normal as can be. I started chemo the same week I had Caleb. Caleb was the most mellow, easy baby I could imagine. Though I was sick quite a bit, we managed.
Six months later I finished chemo with a perfectly clean bill of health. I’ve been cancer free over a year now and I am grateful for each moment I have with my husband and son. Life is a beautiful blessing.