Jessica Dykstra already had two boys when doctors told the pregnant mom her third child was a girl. But what should’ve been a happy time devoted to prepping for the arrival of a baby girl was marred by the devastating news Dykstra was given at the same time — she had cancer.
As CBS Philadelphia reports, hospital scans to rule out a pulmonary embolism (a potentially life-threatening blockage of one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs, according to the Mayo Clinic) revealed Dykstra had a cancerous tumor on her kidney.
Cancer diagnosis during pregnancy is a “rare event” and because pregnant women are often excluded from clinical trials, no solid data is available to support treatment decisions, according to the Journal of Advanced Research. Though varied, the risks to mother and child from surgery during pregnancy are present, especially outside of the second trimester, Intermountain Healthcare reports.
Doctors advised the California mom that surgery to remove the growth was needed immediately, but Dykstra wasn’t convinced it was the right option for her or her unborn baby.
As she told CBS Philadelphia:
“I told Nate, ‘I just don’t feel right about this!’”
Instead, Dykstra conducted more research. The decision led her to a specialist who had performed the same surgery on a pregnant patient. Together, Dykstra, her husband, Nathan, and the doctor chose to wait until after the birth of the baby to perform the operation.
Dr. Georges-Pascal Haber explained to CBS Philadelphia:
“It was a very difficult decision.”
Five weeks after the birth of Hope, Dykstra underwent a partial nephrectomy to remove the cancerous mass on her left kidney. The surgery went better than expected, according to Haber:
“Her prognosis is excellent, given that the whole tumor was removed and this time there is no signs of having any cancer left inside.”
Not only was the tumor removed but Dykstra was able to keep 80 percent of her kidney.
Though doctors insisted the expecting mom undergo immediate life-saving surgery she didn’t — and it’s likely Dysktra is very happy with her decision.
Watch the story via CBS Philadelphia below.