Birth Story: ‘I was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant’

Pregnant with breast cancer birth story

Already mum to one miracle child, Jessica Allen was thrilled when she finally fell pregnant again after 18 months of trying. After almost losing her firstborn to placenta abruption, surely this pregnancy would be smooth sailing, she told herself.

Then she found a lump in her breast.

Jessica’s story is one of a mother’s unwavering love, and proof that miracles really do happen. Sometimes twice.

The journey to baby number two

Jessica Allen birth story

Timothy and Jessica Allen were just like any other couple pregnant with their first baby – full of hope. But the NSW pair faced incredible odds, when at just 22 weeks, Jessica had a placenta abruption.

“We were told 100% he was going to die that day,” Jessica told Mum’s Grapevine. “It only partially tore and a miracle happened and he survived and I was able to continue my pregnancy until 36 weeks. After that, we were always scared about falling pregnant again but Houston was the most amazing miracle for us and eventually, we were ready to try for just one more.”

With Timothy working FIFO, it took 18 months for Jessica to fall pregnant, and she was thrilled her four-year-old would have a sibling.

‘How could this happen?’

Jessica's Birth Story pregnant with breast cancer

But once again, life was about to take them down a rocky path.

“In January I layed down on the couch one day and felt my boobs as they were starting to get sore from pregnancy. My heart skipped a few beats when I felt a huge lump in one of my breasts. I called my mum straight away as she had just had breast cancer six months prior. My initial thoughts were it has to be pregnancy-related because my hormones are going crazy. I went to the doctor the following week where she said she was convinced it was pregnancy-related.”

A few days later, Jessica had an ultrasound, and the doctor confirmed the lump looked suspicious and recommended she had an immediate biopsy. She was just 16 weeks pregnant.

“I thought, ‘How could this be happening when I’m only 35?'”

Jessica was desperate to know the gender of her baby, so the technician also did another ultrasound, this time on her belly. “My heart just broke. In the space of 10 minutes, I was told we were having a boy and I could have breast cancer. I was so speechless all I could do was cry.”

Jessica's birth story

It was a long week of waiting and hoping before Jessica’s results came in. Timothy was away for work, so little Houston had to come to the appointment with Jessica, where she was told the devastating news – she had breast cancer.

“All I could do was look at my son and try not to break down in front of him. My husband was underground with no phone reception and I felt so alone. He rushed home from work the next day to be by my side and a week later I had a partial mastectomy. Four weeks later I started my chemotherapy journey. During that period I got an infection in my breast and had to go back for another surgery.

Pregnant with breast cancer story

“I lost all my hair and half a breast and even though it was hard I still felt like the luckiest person knowing that I would be ok and I was determined to fight every day for my unborn baby and four-year-old son.

“My husband really showed me the meaning of true love. He held my hand through every little moment and told me all the time how beautiful I was even though I never felt it. I was so heartbroken all the time. I felt like getting breast cancer I was letting down my family. I had disappointed them and failed them. I was so sick all the time but I had to fight every day for my boys. They are worth every bad moment.”

The beautiful birth of Bohdi

Chemo through pregnancy

As Jessica was fighting her cancer battle, she had a little companion with her every step of the way – her unborn son. Even as she had her 4.5cm cancer removed, and through all her chemo sessions, she marvelled at the tiny life growing inside her. Jessica’s incredible strength got her through to the end of her pregnancy.

“I was always told that I would have to have the baby early. He did so well that I made it to 38 weeks and my doctor booked in a c-section due to how sick I was and they didn’t want to put any more stress on the baby. I was so surprised that I could do chemo during pregnancy and it doesn’t harm him.”

Cancer treatment and pregnancy

Birth story Bodhi Allen

Finally, it was time for Jessica and Timothy to meet their second miracle boy.

“I’ve been holding my breath for months waiting for this moment. All I needed was my baby to be here and healthy and I could have a sigh of relief. I have never been so nervous in my whole life. As they pulled down the curtain so we could watch Bodhi’s arrival all I could do was cry. All the pain I went through was worth every second for him to be here with us.

“He had some trouble breathing at first and with what felt like a lifetime he was fine and I was able to give him the biggest kiss I could. He was alive and I was alive and our family has never been happier.”

Australian birth story pregnant with cancer

Now that Bohdi is safely earthside, Jessica will start three more months of chemo and a month of radiation once he’s five-weeks-old.

“Just because I’m 35 doesn’t mean you can’t get cancer and I found out is way more common and in pregnancy than I ever knew. I will never forget anything we have been through and every second with my boys I am forever grateful for. We still have a long road to go through but I know I can do it with the support around me.”

Jessica, you are a true superwoman, and we’re sending you strength for the next chapter of your journey.

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