Pregnant With Breast Cancer
By: Michelle Rosch of Naperville, Illinois, Sharsheret Peer Supporter
On February 18th, 2008, two weeks after my 27th birthday and eight months into my first pregnancy, I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. Due to the aggressive nature of my cancer, I delivered my son, Aiden, a month early and had a double mastectomy with reconstruction one week later. The doctors informed me that I was estrogen positive and would risk the cancer returning if I had any more children. My wonderful sister-in-law, April, offered to carry my next child, so I immediately started receiving daily hormone shots to harvest my eggs starting a week after my surgery with just three weeks to finish the process before I started chemotherapy.
During the summer of 2008, I received six chemotherapy treatments every three weeks for four months. After 18 days I started losing my hair, so my husband, Mike, and I decided to shave our heads. I shaved his head and he shaved mine. We actually laughed and had a fun time doing it! I bought a few wigs but only wore them for weddings. I was most comfortable wearing a cute scarf, especially since it was so hot outside. After chemo, I had 7 weeks of daily radiation. The radiation made me feel tired and my skin felt like I had a bad sunburn, but it was very tolerable compared to the side-effects of chemo.
As 2009 began, I had a preventive hysterectomy and had my first breast reconstruction surgery 3 weeks later – all before Aiden’s first birthday. I accomplished so much in a year and it felt nice for the first time to view myself as a strong and brave person. I especially loved my new short hairstyle! Over the next year I had my last reconstructive surgeries and here I am today, 3 years later. I’m healthy, happy, feeling great, and loving life!
The most important thing for me to do is give back and make a difference in the lives of other women living with breast cancer. Volunteering for Sharsheret as a peer supporter has been such a positive part of my life. I remember what a difference it made for me to have support from other young survivors and I am happy to give back in any way I can.