Coping with Cancer During Pregnancy
- “Real Housewives of Cheshire” Star Nermina Pieters-Mekic, 33, revealed that she was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant, causing her to lose her baby. She admitted the loss and subsequent diagnosis took a toll on her emotionally.
- Cancer symptoms can often mimic pregnancy symptoms, potentially delaying a diagnosis. It’s important to always talk to your doctor when something feels unusual to ensure the symptoms you are experiencing during pregnancy are not something else like cancer or chronic disease.
- While it is possible to have a baby after going through cancer treatment, that decision will depend on the kind of breast cancer you have and the kind of treatment you receive. It would be best if you talked with your doctor early on in your cancer journey so you can explore all your options, which may include egg or embryo freezing.
- For cancer patients who received a confirmed cancer diagnosis, the amount of stress and anxiety they feel can be overwhelming. Psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik explains that it is normal for fluid emotions following a diagnosis.
- As you cope with a diagnosis, leaning on your support group filled with loved ones can help you navigate your emotions. It may also be worth seeking help from a mental health professional, which may include talk therapy or medication.
“Real Housewives of Cheshire” Star Nermina Pieters-Mekic, 33, is on a journey of healing after coming to terms with her breast cancer diagnosis while pregnant. The popular Housewives star said she’s speaking out about her journey to help spread awareness about the disease and its symptoms. What makes Pieters-Mekic’s cancer diagnosis so concerning is that she was pregnant when she learned her unsuspecting lump was actually an aggressive early-stage breast cancer.
View this post on InstagramRead MorePieters-Mekic shared her journey with OK Magazine a few weeks after sharing parts of her journey on Instagram.
“I was pregnant when I found out I had cancer; it broke my heart we couldn’t keep the baby – nobody should ever find themselves in that unthinkable position,” Pieters-Mekic said.
She explained that her journey began after discovering a lump in her left breast. She went to her doctor about the lump but said her physician “didn’t seem overly concerned.” Luckily, at the persuasion of her mom, Pieters-Mekic sought further evaluation because the lump started to become sore to touch.
View this post on Instagram
“After some convincing from my mom, I decided to investigate it further as the lump was getting sore and growing,” she explained.
In July, she was diagnosed with an early-stage aggressive breast cancer. The diagnosis brought forth a flurry of worry for the mother of one.
“I will never be able to describe how I felt that day and the days after that…My heart was broken, I was scared, and I had so many questions. I’m healthy and fit, so how is this possible for someone of my age,” Pieters-Mekic said.
The reality TV star said she is currently undergoing chemotherapy and will know in December if she will need surgery.
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Coping With a Diagnosis Is Often Filled with Emotions
Pieters-Mekic’s emotional storm following her breast cancer diagnosis is understandable since it not only impacted her but also the life of her unborn child. For cancer patients who received a cancer diagnosis, the amount of stress and anxiety they feel can be overwhelming. These emotions are completely normal, psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik tells SurvivorNet.
“The patient or person going through the stressful event should accept that emotions will be fluid. It’s also important for those you look to for support, whether that’s a therapist, friends, family, or both, to understand the fluidity of stress-related emotions,” Dr. Plutchik said.
If a stressful event affects your thoughts and feelings, it may be time to seek mental health treatment. This could mean traditional talk therapy, medication, changing lifestyle habits (like exercise and diet), seeking a support group, or many other approaches.
Cancer During Pregnancy
Cancer symptoms can often mimic pregnancy symptoms, potentially delaying a diagnosis. A pregnant woman who notices a lump in her could be experiencing a clogged milk duct, but it could also be a sign of breast cancer. Changes in bowel habits may include hemorrhoids – common for pregnant women – but bowel changes could also indicate colorectal cancer. Similarly, feeling fatigued during pregnancy may be a symptom of the pregnancy, or it could mean a possible lymphoma or blood cancer.
It’s important to always talk to your doctor when something feels unusual to ensure the symptoms you are experiencing during pregnancy are not something else like cancer or chronic disease.
Women who find themselves with a rare cancer diagnosis while pregnant can find added support from the charity Mummy’s Star.
Is It Possible to Have a Baby After Breast Cancer? It Depends
While it is possible to have a baby after going through cancer treatment, that decision will depend on the kind of breast cancer you have and the kind of treatment you receive. Dr. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a medical advisor to SurvivorNet, says discussing with your doctor early on in your cancer journey so you can explore all your options. These may include egg or embryo freezing.
There are some specific challenges for women with breast cancer:
- Young women who need chemotherapy could have their fertility significantly affected. Many chemotherapy drugs can damage a woman’s eggs.
- If women are on medication to stop the hormones that feed their specific kind of breast cancer, they may not be able to get pregnant for several years, in some instances, ten years.
- Many stage 4 breast cancers need estrogen to grow, and pregnancy is a very, very high hormone state, so pregnancy is not recommended in these cases.