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My Story | Kathy D., South Carolina, USA

Choriocarcinoma, diagnosed 1993 at 29


My story starts in December of 1993. I was 28 years old, six months pregnant with my second child. I was experiencing shortness of breath, and started to cough up blood. I went to my obstetrician and he dismissed my symptoms as a cold - which I did NOT have. I continued to cough up more blood, and insisted that he do further testing. They took chest x-rays the next day, and found that both lungs were full of tumors.

I was admitted to the high risk floor of the hospital and was given more tests. A needle biopsy of my lung confirmed malignancy. Since the local doctors knew nothing about choriocarcinoma, they didn't suspect it, and called specialists in other states in order to come up with some explanation for this strange thing that was happening to me. My blood tests indicated that my bHCG (beta human chorionic gonadotropic hormone) level was not elevated, but was well within the normal range for pregnancy. This led them to suspect that I did not have choriocarcinoma, but perhaps another type of cancer. They continued to test me until they realized that, since the tumors were growing so fast, if I didn't have my baby immediately, I might not be around to deliver him.

On January 3, at 28 weeks gestation, I gave birth to my miracle baby, Ethan. He weighed 4 pounds, 4 ounces; a bit underdeveloped, but perfect in every way. While Ethan grew in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), I underwent more tests to rule out other types of cancer, but none could be found. My placenta was fine, as was my uterus. The doctors continued to scratch their heads. After a third biopsy of my lung indicated the presence of bHCG, they concluded I had a rare cancer called choriocarcinoma.

I told the doctors that while I didn't know exactly what I had, I was ready to do any thing they asked because I knew God would heal me no matter what treatment they used. So, the next day I moved to the cancer floor to start my chemo (EMA-CO - Etoposide, Methotrexate, Actinomycin D, and Carboplatin) with my big, blue "IT'S A BOY" ribbon hanging outside my door. While my angel was struggling to make it through in the NICU, I was struggling with the ups and downs of treatment and taking care of my four-year-old at home. GOD was HEALING us both!

After four months of treatment, my bHCG levels were normal, and Baby Angel Ethan was home and growing by leaps and bounds. It's been seven years now, and we continue to praise God for His Healing Hands and for our many blessings. Ethan is in second grade, and I just saw my doctor today for another six-month checkup. He gave me a pat on the back and told me I am cured. I, of course, corrected him by saying, "No, Dr. B, the word is HEALED!"

September 2001

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