One of the most unusual and frightening cases of cancer we’ve heard in a long time has just come out of Las Vegas. A local newscaster named Michelle Velez is revealing how her pregnancy caused an extremely rare cancer. The odds of Velez developing the cancer that she did were roughly one in 15,000, but thanks to what she is now calling “just dumb luck,” she became that one. Velez, who works as an anchor for the Las Vegas local news station KSNV, recently shared a Facebook post explaining her absence from the program.
“Hello news 3 family and viewers… Last week I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that was caused by an abnormal pregnancy,” Velez wrote. “It’s extremely complicated so I’ll try my best to make it easy to understand.”Read More
“In some very rare cases that tissue can turn into cancer post and spread to other organs in the body,” Velez wrote in her Facebook post. “That is what happened to me.”
According to the American Cancer Society, molar pregnancies that turn into cancer are technically called “gestational trophoblastic disease,” or “GTD,” and they differ from cervical cancer or endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterine lining) in that they don’t develop from the cells that line the cervix or uterus. Instead, they develop from the cells that would, during a normal pregnancy, turn into a placenta.
What Are the Symptoms of a Molar Pregnancy?
As Velez explained in an Instagram post caption, the symptoms of her rare cancer can mimic that of a pregnancy itself.
“Since the placenta is still there, the body mimics a pregnancy and spikes the pregnancy hormone (HCG) to astronomical levels,’ she wrote. “Essentially it was as if I was pregnant with 5 babies at once. It made me extremely sick and caused excessive bleeding.”
According to Today, Velez’s pregnancy test came back positive, too, despite the pregnancy containing no fetus.
View this post on Instagram
A little video message update. Back in the hospital.. but today was a good day. ???????? #molarpregnancy #gestationaltrophoblasticdisease #gestationaltrophoblasticneoplasia #gtn #pregnancycancer #canceroftheplacenta #choriocarcinoma #cancerdiagnosis #momswithcancer #momlifeishard
Is This Type of Cancer Treatable?
Yes, luckily Velez’ cancer is highly responsive to the treatment she’s receiving, which includes chemotherapy.
“The great news is this type of cancer is treatable and my doctors have every reason to believe I will be free and clear at the end of this,” Velez wrote. “I am SO thankful for that and that is what I’m choosing to focus on. The bad news is I have to go through aggressive chemo to kill it. Yes.. I will probably lose my hair and experience other side effects of chemo – but all that is temporary. I have already made it through my first two treatments this week. Total number of rounds all depends on how long it takes the tissue to disappear.”
View this post on Instagram
I’ve made it through my first round of chemo.. so that’s three days of treatments so far.. and I still get nervous every time I walk in. Cried on the first day.. naturally. The chemo makes me really cold.. and they put Benadryl in the IV so it knocks me out too. I hate that feeling. Every day I go in for treatment.. I have this inner battle with myself. On one hand I hate knowing all this harsh stuff is going inside me.. taking a toll on my body – but on the other hand – it’s also the only thing saving my life. A real mind mess if you ask me. Now we get to wait and see what the side effects are like. How will I feel? Will it take all my hair? Will I still have eyelashes or brows at least? Please God leave me my brows.. I have a thing about brows. If you know me.. you know that ???? Not most important but still on my mind. Also.. I really miss my kids. We’re not sure when they’re coming back yet – all depends on whether I can get stable enough to have them here. I’m praying this is the last week for that. Praying for a lot right now. Your prayers are helping too so thank you from the bottom of my ♥️ Tonight.. I will get my second warrior hug from my mamma to celebrate #round1down ???????? #molarpregnancy #GTD #choriocarcinoma #cancerdiagnosis #chemo #chemosucks #cancersucks #gestationaltrophoblasticdisease #pregnancycancer #placentacancer
Molar pregnancies themselves, it’s worth noting, are usually treatable through a surgery that removes the tissue in the uterus. But in cases like Velez’, where the tissue becomes cancer and invades parts of the body beyond the uterus, the surgery is no longer an option.
“I can’t really put into words what it is like to find out you have cancer,” Velez wrote after describing her very rare diagnosis. “Devastating.. shocking and terrifying for starters – but there’s so much more to this I never understood. I plan to be as open and transparent about this journey as I can – because it’s the only way I know how to be.”