Stephanie Hosford was told she had breast cancer on a Friday. The following Monday she found out she was pregnant. “I couldn’t process any of it,” she says. “I had no idea what I was going to do.”
|Stephanie, left, now cancer-free, poses with her family. She was relieved to learn that City of Hope doctors could treat her during pregnancy — without jeopardizing her baby daughter’s life.|
Stephanie sought second and third opinions, trying to learn more about her disease — and find out how it all affected her unborn child. Doctors from different hospitals told her the same thing: She needed to terminate the pregnancy. Not because her baby was unlikely to survive, but because the fetus would complicate the treatment process.
Stephanie was crushed. “I was so depressed,” she says. “At the time, I thought that was my only option.”
That is when Stephanie came to City of Hope.
Stephanie was prepared to hear the same words she had heard from all the other doctors she had consulted. “I wasn’t even going to ask about the pregnancy,” Stephanie remembers. “But Dr. Paz had a kindly face and a warm handshake — the kind, you know, where he holds your one hand in both of his. So I asked him, ‘I need to abort this baby, right?’”
“He said, ‘No.’”
Stephanie could not believe her ears. For the first time since she had been diagnosed, she felt a tiny flicker of hope. Dr. Paz went on to explain that City of Hope had treated many pregnant women, and that their babies had turned out fine. “How is that possible?” she asked. Dr. Paz replied, “That’s the miracle of life.”
After her lumpectomy, Stephanie chose to receive the rest of her treatment from City of Hope. Over the next year, Stephanie received chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and reconstruction to reduce the risk of recurrence. It was all worth it, she says.
“I put all my trust in City of Hope and I never looked back,” she says. “They did everything. They had all my records, they talked with each other, they read my charts — it’s totally team medicine. They know you.”
Today, Stephanie has been cancer-free for three years. And her 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter, the one who survived everything that Stephanie went through, is healthy, thriving and happy.
“The people at City of Hope taught me that it’s not about survival,” she says. “It’s about living.”
It is thanks to the generous support of friends like you that people like Stephanie — and her daughter — can live full lives today, cancer-free. To learn more about Stephanie and her journey — which includes much more than what is told in this short story — read her blog, “Bald, Fat and Crazy: The Musical” (www.baldfatandcrazy.com).