When 26-year-old Keshanna found out she was pregnant, she and her boyfriend were ecstatic. A few weeks later, she found a lump in her breast.
At first, she thought it might just be a sign of her body changing with pregnancy but after she mentioned it to her mom, a breast cancer survivor, she decided to get it checked out. After a few appointments and a biopsy from a provider at Hallmark Health Medical Associates, she was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer.
“To go to the hospital, never having anything wrong with me, to just randomly having breast cancer and being pregnant on top of that. It was very very scary,” Keshanna said.
A treatment plan for two
Keshanna was referred to the Breast Health Center at Tufts Medical Center. Led by Jack Erban, MD, an oncologist and Tufts Cancer Center Clinical Director, and Cate Mullen, RN, MSN, the Nurse Navigator for the Breast Center, a multidisciplinary team was assembled to determine the best possible treatment plan for both Keshanna and her baby.
“With Cate Mullen, RN, MSN, and with every other doctor here at the hospital, I knew I was in good hands,” Keshanna said.
The first step in her treatment was surgery to remove the cancer. Her surgeon, Abhishek Chatterjee, MD, is one of Boston's few oncoplastic surgery specialists. “He is an amazing surgeon. Not only does he deal with breast cancer he also does reconstruction as well. Not many doctors can do both," said Keshanna. Having one surgeon do both the removal of her tumor and the reconstruction had a lot of benefits for Keshanna - Dr. Chatterjee understood her unique situation and made adjustments to ensure that the anesthesia and surgery itself were safe for the baby.
After surgery, Keshanna began chemotherapy. Again, with her son in mind, her care team chose a chemotherapy treatment specifically to be safe for the baby. And, throughout her treatment, she was monitored by the Tufts Maternal Fetal Medicine team, to ensure that her son was growing healthily.
A growing family
Before Keshanna had her son, “They would call me on a regular basis just to see how I was doing, in general. They knew it was tough being pregnant and dealing with this diagnosis, but they took the time out of their day to make me feel like I was part of their family,” she said.
Then, it wasn’t long before Liam was born. Although he was a healthy baby boy, Liam was born 6 weeks early, so needed to spend his first few weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts MC. Keshanna built strong relationships with the nurses and other families in the NICU while Liam was there, and as she was going through radiation downstairs in the Cancer Center.
Now, Keshanna and her partner are happy to be home in New Hampshire, with Liam. “Liam is my life. I’m so happy that nothing has affected him,” said Keshanna.