Woman battles breast cancer while carrying her first child

Posted at 7:43 PM, Oct 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-17 23:44:03-04

Cheryl Brown Nichols and her husband James had been trying to get pregnant for years.

"I got good news and then I got bad news," she said.

She'd never had a mammogram, so when they turned to Shady Grove for fertility treatment they told her a mammogram was mandatory.  It was the last step before they began treatment.  She had the screening and then she and hubby left for a much needed vacation.

"I came back and a couple of weeks later that's when I found out I was pregnant and we didn't have to go through fertility, but we did find out about the breast cancer so the baby is a huge part of this," Cheryl said.

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Just five months into her pregnancy her baby remains top of mind, even when she had her lumpectomy in August.

"It's been scary," she said. I didn't know if the surgery or the medication would harm the baby. Waiting finding out five weeks and then waiting until my second trimester to have anything done anytime of treatment so I didn't know if it had spread within that time."

Fortunately Cheryl's cancer hadn't spread. 

Her surgeon Dr. Kristen Fernandez of Medstar Franklin Square Hospital said the biggest challenge in these cases is remembering you have two patients. 

"The No. 1 focus has to be to keep mom healthy and alive because otherwise the baby is not going to be healthy or alive," Dr. Fernandez said.

Up next for Cheryl, chemotherapy.

"I wanted to wait until after I had the baby, but I don't want the cancer to come back. So I know I have to treat my whole body so I have faith."

She'll have four treatments and be complete just in time for baby Nichols arrival in February. 

"It's just gonna be a miracle," she said. "It's gonna be a miracle.  It just feels like this baby gave me another chance at life.  It's going to be overwhelming to hold him."

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