Former Nurse Battles Breast Cancer During Pregnancy
October 10, 2022
Lauren, now 34 years old, has come out smiling—as she typically does—on the other side. She’s committed to telling her story to help even one more person feel less alone with their cancer journey. Journaling through her diagnosis and treatments, she says her story must include breast surgeon and breast surgical oncologist Debra Camal, M.D., at Riverview Medical Center.
“Dr. Camal sees so many patients, but every time I talked to her, I felt like I was the only one,” says Lauren. “She just has that magical touch, like a fairy godmother. She took care of everything—lining up my oncologist and plastic surgeon, and thinking about what we’d need to do if ‘this or that happens.’ She even gave me her cell phone number.”
Discovering Breast Cancer While Pregnant
Unquestionably, Lauren’s road to the present tested her in ways she never imagined. With a husband, 4-year-old son and now a 1-year-old “healthy miracle daughter,” Lauren discovered she was 7 weeks pregnant February 9, 2021.
Then, on March 8, a breast biopsy revealed stage 3 ductal carcinoma and ductal carcinoma in situ. The first invasive type starts in milk ducts but spreads to surrounding breast tissues, while the second starts in milk ducts and remains there.
At week 12 of her pregnancy, Lauren underwent a mastectomy for her left breast and removal of 21 lymph nodes. She started chemotherapy at week 15 and continued to 35 weeks. “My daughter came at 36 weeks and five days,” she says. “Ironically, she was born on October 1, the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”
Lauren had another month of chemo after her delivery, and her last treatment on November 4, 2021. To prevent her ovaries from making any more potentially troublesome estrogen, she had hormone therapy with an ovarian suppression injection. A month later a positron emission tomography (PET) scan showed she was “all clear” of cancer.
A COVID-19 diagnosis at Christmas delayed her radiation therapy, but after 28 sessions ending in January 2022, Lauren says she “held up very well.”
Doing the Right Things for Herself
In May 2022, Lauren underwent a prophylactic or preventative mastectomy of her right breast since she carries the PALB2 genetic mutation. That puts her at higher risk for not only breast but also ovarian and pancreatic cancer. She’ll have breast implants inserted soon.
“There’s so much that goes along with having breast cancer, including being physically and mentally tough,” says Lauren. “I still see a behavioral health therapist, do acupuncture, and I exercise and eat better. I try to do the right things for myself and be a good mom who’s always here for my kids.”
Next Steps & Resources:
- Meet our source: Debra Camal, M.D.
- To make an appointment with a breast specialist near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website
- Learn more about breast health and care
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.