Mom-to-be battles aggressive breast cancer during pregnancy - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Mom-to-be battles aggressive breast cancer during pregnancy

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Jenny Davis of Fayetteville grew up in the shadow of cancer. She lost her mother when she was just 11 to ovarian cancer.

But Jenny never imagined she'd face her own diagnosis at 27, with a baby on the way.

Davis has just learned she was 5-weeks pregnant with her third daughter Brantley, when she felt it:

Breastfeeding he other baby, 7-month old Nolan, a lump. Davis says, “I thought it was milk. I wasn't worried about it."

Doctors were worried. But, because she was so early in her pregnancy, they had to wait to biopsy the mass.

Davis says, “During that time, just a couple of months, that tumor had doubled in size."

Her oncologist, Piedmont Fayette Cancer Center Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Bender, says, “She was 27 and diagnosed with one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer that we see, which is "triple negative." Hey says, "We always have to make a decision on whether to delay therapy or treat right away."

Dr. Bender felt they had to start treatment as soon as possible: four rounds of chemo during her second and third trimester, two more after the baby was born. Jenny was worried about her baby. She says, "Trying to save my life, and trying not to harm her life was very hard."

Dr. Bender says even doctors are surprised pregnant women can be safely treated with chemo, using a combination of drugs that is less toxic to the fetus. He says, "The studies have shown that as long as you wait until the second or third trimester, until most of the baby's organ are already formed, that the potential birth defect risks is a lot lower."

Davis received a combination of three different types of chemotherapy every three weeks. During her infusions, she was comforted when her baby would kick in her belly.

But, then, another challenge: Brantley was diagnosed in utero with a cleft lip and palate, birth defects doctors says are not related to the cancer or the chemo. On Jenny's 28th birthday, Brantley was born, spending her first two weeks of life in a neonatal ICU.

Jenny Davis says, “A big weight was just lifted when we were able to bring her home. And we were all together. And just knowing, I've got to do this. I've got to have these last two chemos."

When the chemo was complete, Jenny faced another ordeal. Because she tested positive for a BRCA 1 gene, which significantly raises her risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer, Jenny chose to have both breasts, her uterus and ovaries surgically-removed.

Dr. Benders says her strength was remarkable. He says, "When you see someone like Jennifer Davis, who has gone through all the obstacles and is still shining brightly, it brings a big smile to my face. She is a success story that keeps you getting up in the morning and doing this job."

Brantley - is now five - and doing really well. So is Jenny. Cancer free: five years, four months, and counting. She says, “

"I am so fortunate to be here. And I get to live out my dream, to watch my children grow up. And to take care of them.”

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