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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I knew I had to live: A pregnant breast cancer survivor

Patty Murray, an attorney in Buffalo, was 35, very healthy and pregnant with her third child. Nearing the 17th week of her pregnancy, she noticed a lump under her arm.

An ultrasound exam revealed that she had aggressive breast cancer, which had spread to her lymph nodes. At that time, in 1995, little was known about cancer treatment of pregnant women, but her oncologist told her the chemo would have no effect on her fetus; if anything, the baby would be born without hair.

Surprisingly, according to a Norwegian study of 45,000 women diagnosed with cancer, pregnancy does not affect survival rates. Some women say that being pregnant increases their will to survive. "The baby inside me created a necessity for living," she said. "Whenever I felt him moving around, I knew that I had to live."

Ten long seconds after her baby boy was born, she heard him cry. "It was the most wonderful sound I ever heard," she said. The doctors brought him over, and unlike her first two children at birth, he had a full head of hair.

Twelve years later, in 1997 Patty founded Hope for Two…the Pregnant with Cancer Network. Its mission is to connect cancer patients.

Advice: Live like Patty, who created an organization to help people overcome what she overcame.

Thanks to Pamela Paul for the source article in the New York Times Magazine of August 31.

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