Pregnant with Breast Cancer

Hi All
I am slightly jumping the gun, but have been told it is highly likely (95% chance) I have breast cancer and am awaiting the results of biopsies, which I should get next Tuesday or Wednesday.

However, I am also 5 weeks pregnant. I know it is reasonably rare, but does happen that someone gets diagnosed with breast cancer when pregnant, but would like to hear from people who were in the early stages of pregnancy and ask what happened with them.

Did you decide to terminate? Were you able to continue with a modified form of treatment?

I am an optimist, but also realistic about the fact it may be best to terminate, but I’d rather not have to!!!

With hugs to everyone with this disease xxxx

Hi Flora29,

Welcome to the Breast Cancer Care discussion forums, where I’m sure you’ll get a lot of support from the other users of the site. While you are waiting for replies to your post, here is a link to the BCC publication, Breast Cancer during Pregnancy:

breastcancercare.org.uk/upload/pdf/breast_cancer_during_pregnancy_0.pdf

If it would help to talk to someone in confidence please do not hesitate to contact the BCC Helpline, lines are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday 9am-2pm, Tel 0808 800 6000

Kind regards,
Kate, BCC Facilitator

Flora i was 36 weeks pregnant when i found my lump so i was in a different situation to you as you are early on. Diagnosis took an age with me so i didnt start the process off till she was 8mths old.

Im glad they have been fairly honest with you as mine just blamed my hormones and only tested me for reassurance!! Scary.

I think you will have difficult decisions ahead of you and i hope the staff at your hospital support you. Do you have any children already? I know i would always be tempted to have the baby but would want to know all the risks.

good good luck

S

i’m so so sorry to read of your predicament and i sincerely hope that it turns out to be nothing sinister. i was diagnosed when my baby was 6 months old and i was breastfeeding. i had been falsely reassured that mine was a blocked milk duct when my baby was just 8 weeks… consequently the tumour just grew. i am glad your team seem to be fairly proactive with your case.
i hope someone else comes along who can answer your queries, as my situation was different to yours. i can only imagine how you must be feeling right now with potentially extremely difficult decisions ahead of you. the best of luck and i really hope for the best news for you.xxx

Flora, I’m so sad to read your story, and I’m afraid I don’t really have any answers for you (though I know you will find a HUGE amount of support and information on here.) Like Redcell, I was diagnosed when my baby boy was only 9 months old (and I had just finished breastfeeding). It really was a shock to the system, but one of the scariest things was waiting for test results, and then waiting to hear what my treatment would be. I was diagnosed on 28th May, and finished four weeks of radiotherapy a few weeks ago.

I am keeping everything crossed for you. If it is cancer, ask about speaking to a counsellor (under guidelines, this should be offered to you routinely, but I know it doesn’t always happen)

Will be thinking of you getting your results next week, please let us know how you get on, and we will all try and help in any way we can. Sending you big hugs ((()))

shenagh xxx

A good friend of mine was diagnosed whilst pregnant. This was about 13 years ago now - she had CMF chemo during the pregnancy and went on to have a healthy daughter who is now a pre-teen. She also went on to have another little girl who is almost 9. Both bright, beautiful and healthy girls. Her story made the national news at the time.

Our local hospital presented her with no option but to terminate, but she had treatment at the Royal Marsden who were prepared to try what was then, and I suspect still is, rare and ground breaking treatment. Sometimes local hospitals have no idea that these things are possible.

My friend is all clear after all these years on too.

If you want to try to carry on with the pregnancy then I’d suggest contacting the Royal Marsden to see if they can help you.

Hi flora,
My hairdresser was diagnosed when she was 5 months pregnant and was advised to have a termination, she felt that she could not go ahead with this and decided to carry on with the pregnancy, she was given fec chemo although am not sure if the dose was reduced but i know she had quite a few rounds of it and went on to deliver a bouncing baby girl and both mother and baby are doing great,
Hope whatever the outcome is that you can decide whatever feels right for you.

Hello Flora
I have never been in a situation like yours and just want to send love and wish you well.
good luck
monica xx

Thanks so much everyone.

I’m a librarian, so have been doing some research and found that surgery in 1st trimester and chemo in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters is a possibility, but I know it will depend on how aggresive, the type, grade and stage.

I had a miscarriage in June and found my lump when my breasts returned to “normal”. I should have stopped trying to conceive but never thought it would really be cancer at the age of 36!!

Thanks for the Royal Marsden reference. I will follow that up if I need to, although I’m in south Wales so a bit of a trek!!

Will let you know what is confirmed next week xxx

Hi Flora
I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was approx 12 weeks pregnant. I was initially advised by the surgeon that termination was probably my only option, but thankfully on meeting with the oncologist and also my obstetrician we discovered that treatment was very possible. We were told that surgery was safest in the 2nd trimester and that chemotherapy is safe in the 2nd and third trimesters. I had surgery (a full mastectomy and clearance of all lymph-nodes which was advised by my obstetrician but was ultimately my choice) on the 1st July 2009 when I was 15 weeks and two days pregnant and am now waiting to start chemotherapy on the 24th September. I will be 27 weeks pregnant at this point. My whole journey ince finding the lump has been very positive and mine and babies prognosis is very good. Every visit brings better and better news and I feel very positive about it all. Yes, it is scary and the moment we heard the news the world stopped for a minute. But trust in yourself and your doctors abilities and you will get through it. Remember that it is incredibly rare in pregnancy and you may still get the all clear. Good Luck, I have everything crossed for you!
Dawn x x x

Thank you for such a positive post and story, Dawn.

I am expecting to need surgery within the first trimester, so not sure how big the risks are with this, and may be jumping the gun anyway - but from the Dr already having asked for my pre-op bloods to be done and expecting me to have to come in next Friday to talk about treatment, I think they are fairly certain that my diagnosis is just a formality.

I am going to do another preg test tomorrow, to check that I still am… I’ve only known about it for a week! So much news, all at once…

Hi another one here.

I found my lump when 5 months, forgot about it, found it again and advised by my (brilliant) nct teacher to get it checked out and dx at 34 weeks so at other end of things from you.

My team were great went the extra mile for me, the obs and midwives were fab and took care of me and I started chemo when little h was 2 weeks old.

Just had my annual mammogram check up and all looking good. It’s a hard journey but all the more extraordinary when you have another life to think of.

All the best to you, whatever you have to go thro you will get support here.

sam

Hi Dawn
Can you tell me, was there ever any comment that you may be risking your own health by choosing not to terminate?

Also, by a full mastectomy, do you mean both breasts were taken? Will you be having a reconstruction at some point? Do you think the gap between the surgery and start of chemo is a normal wait, or is it usually much sooner in cases without pregnancy?

I am going to be one of those annoying patients who turns up with medical papers and heresay before I accept that a termination is necessary!

Hi Sammy, so glad to hear your annual check up is looking good. For now, it is just not crossing my mind that I won’t survive: I’m just concentrating on whether I can keep the baby.

I am 36 now, nearly 37 and if I have to lose this and then wait 2 years to try again I will be 39 or 40 before I have my first child!! I never wanted it to be like this! Grrr…

Hi Flora29

I was dx whilst 30 weeks pregnant, so a bit later on than you. I had surgery (WLE) and then my oncologist said I would need to be induced in order for the rest of my treatment to begin. I think the guidelines are to begin treatment 12 weeks from surgery. My onc said I would need to be induced at 35 weeks and it would be preferable for a normal birth rather than a c-section. My baby was having none of this and stayed put until 37 weeks and then I started chemo 2 weeks later. So all in all I had a gap from surgery of 9 weeks before chemo started.

There was a lady who helped me at the time who had to have chemo whilst pregnant and she gave birth at 35 weeks.

You may want to explore some of the archive posts, I think in Younger Women, because there have been several ladies in a similar situation to you i.e. early stages of pregnancy.

Will be thinking of you this week and hope your results are better than expected. Take care. Love xxx

Hi Flora
Never at any point has any of my doctors made me feel like I was riskng my own health by not terminating. Quite the opposite in fact. The oncologist was incredibly reassuring as was my obstetrician who I have been under the care of for many years. My treatment has been delayed for longer than they would normally wait, my cancer is an aggressive grade 3 tumour, but even so a woman I was on the same ward with who had the same op is only starting her chemo 3 weeks before me. Chemo can be delayed for many reasons, sometimes because of general health or if your wound isn’t suitably healed so waiting a few more weeks for baby to get as big and strong as possible is neither here nor there. I had a full mastectomy on the left hand side only, I was able to have a mammogram to check the other breast which thankfully is fine. I will def have reconstruction, but not until after baby is born. My baby dr has said he will prob induce baby and I am having fortnightly growth scans to check on baby’s development.
I am like you, I turn up with a list of questions to every appointment because you never remember them when you’re in there!
Good Luck, when do you get the results?
Another point, we were told that surgery in the 2nd trimester was safest, but also possible in the 1st. Also we were told that chemo was safe in the 2nd and 3rd trimester so again still positive. At the end of the day, you are the only one who can make the decision but find out and ask as many questions as you can and then you will make the right choice for you.
Take care, got everything crossed.
x

Thanks Dawn
I had my results confirmed yesterday. Grade 2 invasive. I’m booked in for a mastectomy on Monday, but the best thing is there was no question about trying to keep the baby, the doc has modified the treatment with it in mind. Therefore surgery will be at 7 weeks pregnant and chemo at some point in 2nd trimester.

We left the consultant feeling really happy!!! It was what I had hoped for.

I’m seeing an obstetrician this morning regarding the pregnancy aspects and hope I can get a scan to see that everything is ok at the moment.

Fantastic news Flora : )

I have sent you a PM (personal message)

Love and hugs to you xxx

Great news re pregnancy, you must be so relieved. Sounds like your doctor is very positive and I’m sure now you’ve seen your obstetrician you’ll feel even better again. Hope they did a scan for you to reassure you, I know just how scary it is, thinking you’ve had such a run of bad luck and wondering if anything else can go wrong. I’m sure baby is absolutely fine and will provide a wonderful distraction and light at the end of the tunnel for you throughout your treatment. I know my one year old and my current pregnancy have kept me going on more than one occasion.
I wish you the very best of luck with everything and please keep me posted on how you are doing. Good luck for the op on Monday, I’m sure you’ll be absolutely fine. My surgeon arranged for me to go for a scan on baby the following day to reassure me and to check that everything was ok, maybe you can ask if this is possible for you too. I was home the day after my surgery and have recovered really well, so keep thinking positive and you’ll be fine.
x x x

I did get a scan, but it appears I’m probably slightly less than 6 weeks so they could only see the yolk sac and no heartbeat. Doc reassured me it all looked as he would expect it to, so I’m not worried. Got another scan already booked for the week after surgery so that’s fantastic.

Will let you know how I get on, but am feeling calm and ready right now!

Just to update those kind people that commented previously, I have now had my mastectomy and now have my axillary drain still in (operation was on Monday, so it’ll have to come out tomorrow!).

All went well - I was throwing up green liquid (from the blue dye) for about 7 hours post op, but was allowed home the following day, which is quite good. I am now doing my exercises and visiting the hospital daily to get the drain checked (the breast drain was removed the day after the op). I’ve managed to bath, dress and wash my hair by myself now, so am fairly OK to look after myself this coming week, but was grateful for my parents looking after me last week - if only cos it gave OH a break too.

The bad news is that the doctor confirmed it was a grade 3 cancer, and took out all the lymph nodes when he went in for the mastectomy as they all looked misshapen. They found under pathology that all of the 23 nodes were affected, which is not good. I got that news last Thursday and it knocked me back a bit - spent the rest of the day sleeping and crying. However, I’m now back ready to fight it.

Meeting with the oncologist on Tuesday - after a scan of the baby - so it’ll hopefully be a bittersweet day.