Raising awareness, Sarah Hanan's husband, Ben, urged others to not ignore the signs of breast cancer, which could have potentially taken his wife's life if she hadn't undergone a checkup early on.
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A man was left devastated after his seven-month pregnant wife was diagnosed with an aggressive form of 2A breast cancer. The first-time pregnant 29-year-old Sarah Hanan decided to go for a routine scan at the Minneapolis hospital. Previously noticing some lumps on her breast, she decided to check that out as well. "About two weeks before, I was sitting on the couch with my husband, Ben, and noticed a harder spot on my breast," Sarah told BBC News. Unfortunately, her whole world came crashing down when the doctor rang her the following day, January 14, with the results of her biopsy. "In 24 hours I'd gone from being excited about our baby to being diagnosed with cancer," recalled the mother.
"We were getting really excited (about the pregnancy) - it was only a couple of months away. Then it felt like life came to a screeching halt," she added. The pair found themselves in a major dilemma, with the baby almost on its way. "Do I have to make a decision about my baby boy? Do I have to make a decision about me?" she questioned herself. On the other Sarah's husband, Ben, recalls this devastating revelation as the most terrifying moment in his life. "It was a whirlwind from that to chemotherapy starting. It was diagnosed on a Thursday and we saw an oncologist on Monday. It was pretty terrifying for a bit. You start to think, 'I don't want to be a single father. I don't want to lose my wife and son,'" Ben told the outlet.
"They did the test and saw it was a fast-developing aggressive cancer. All the doctors told us, as far as they knew, the chemo would not have an adverse effect on the baby. But we didn't really have a choice," he added. Chemotherapy is one of the most common methods of treatments given to a woman during her pregnancy according to Macmillan Cancer Support. And as per research, the charity claims that babies whose mothers undergo chemotherapy "don't seem to have problems any different to babies whose mothers did not have chemotherapy." However, this did not stop Sarah from worrying about her unborn child.
"As a mum sitting there, it was devastating putting these drugs into me. I couldn't even take ibuprofen but here I was having chemotherapy," recollected Sarah who was not ready to give up just yet. "But I want to be able to raise my son. I want to be there for him. So I wanted those survival rates to be as high as possible." Although the tumor has doubled in size since she started treatment, along with the painful side effects of chemotherapy, including nausea and fatigue, the mother confessed that it was nothing compared to the first trimester of her pregnancy.
"It was actually almost a piece of cake," she said adding, "My first three months of pregnancy I was puking all the time and I had to go to the emergency room because I couldn't even keep fluids down. With chemotherapy, it was just nausea and everything tasted of metal." She was well aware of the fact that she would be losing all her hair, but she was completely fine with it as long as her baby was safe. "But I also knew that I was going to lose my hair. Knowing that I was going to be this bald woman was one of the biggest points to grasp, to understand that was going to be OK."
According to reports, Sarah gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Noah, back in January this year. "I only had to push for about 20 minutes. The nurses joked I should never tell other mothers that. He came out and immediately started crying. He grabbed on to my little finger and that was the moment it all became real. We became parents right there," she said of the breathtaking moment. Apparently, her chemotherapy was stopped about three weeks before her son was born and was resumed a week after she gave birth. Due to the treatment, she wasn't able to breastfeed her child, which was something she was really looking forward to. "I had been really looking forward to that, to being able to take care of my son like that. Some women choose not to but I felt like that was taken away from me, that I didn't have a choice," she added.
In March her genetic testing revealed a mutation of the TP53 gene, this increases the risk of developing cancer and so she underwent a double mastectomy in May. "As a new mom, that's been something which has been hard to accept. But it's all right. He's still going to be a smart, healthy boy and we'll just feed him formula," she said. Thankfully, the inexperienced parents had the support of their church, family, and friends, which made it a little easier for the couple to care for the baby while Sarah underwent intensive cancer treatment. Speaking about the deadly disease, Ben said, "It's entirely possible this is the very beginning of a long and painful journey but I want people to be aware that it's a thing which happens."
Urging people not to neglect signs of breast cancer he continued, "Apparently one in 3,000 pregnant women get breast cancer. People really care about this stuff, but a lot of the time we're afraid to talk about it." And if it wasn't for her pregnancy, Sarah might not have been diagnosed so quickly. "Sarah getting pregnant saved her life. The clinic says she probably would have been dead in a year." Although Sarah's tumor is shrinking much quicker than expected, there's still a chance that her cancer might make it's way back. However, Sarah is very positive about her situation. "We're running a marathon. The goal this year is to be cancer-free. This is part of Noah's story too. And one day I'll tell him all about it. He's a miracle baby," she added.