An expectant mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer, was 26 weeks pregnant with her first child and underwent chemotherapy during her pregnancy warns women to watch out for abnormal changes in their bodies.
“The first thing I noticed was a large lump in my right breast, like a lump of flesh. In my head it was just hormonal changes at first. Even my antenatal doctor said it wasn’t anything serious,” recalls Jessica Dagenais, 25.
Her doctor took no chances and sent her for an emergency ultrasound and then biopsies. On January 26, a date she will always remember, she was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer.
“I was alone in my doctor’s office because of COVID. I burst into tears. Everything collapsed. I wasn’t even thinking about my health or my life, I was thinking about that of my daughter, Roxanne,” she says.
From joy to pain
Her first pregnancy, which was meant to be a moment of joy for her and her spouse, immediately turned into a source of dread. She still feels fortunate to have received her diagnosis quickly, which enabled her to begin treatment immediately.
“You should not hesitate to consult. If I had listened to loved ones who said it was nothing serious, I might have had a diagnosis [plus sombre]. Prevention is better than cure,” she says, also emphasizing the importance of regular breast self-exams.
With kind approval
The 25-year-old mother-to-be before her hair loss from treatments.
mme Dagenais has undergone two cycles of chemotherapy and will complete her treatments after her delivery, which is scheduled for late April. Until then, she’s trying to gather strength for the big day. Especially since she will give birth in the middle of the sixth wave of COVID and her immune system is at its lowest.
“Since I was in my 3rd trimester I was told that the chemo would not be dangerous for the baby as his organs are already developed. But it’s not set in stone. Science hasn’t paid much attention to it. My fear is still there,” says the Montrealer.
Before the unknown
She dreads the coming weeks when her little Roxanne is born. “I already don’t know what to expect because this is my first child. Then I’m afraid that, like Mom, I won’t be up to the task because I’m tired. Especially since at some point I will be doing one treatment per week for 12 weeks,” she explains.
She is sad to have to give up breastfeeding because of the products used in chemotherapy. “Another mourning I had to make. I would have wished for this mother-child contact so much,” she says.
“I’m stressed, but I’m trying to stay positive. Welcoming a little baby motivates me to keep hope and fight for it,” says Jessica Dagenais.