Once in a while, we get the opportunity to share an inspirational story about one of our patients. In this post, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a remarkable young woman, Anna Jolly, who was afraid her journey with cancer would limit her ability to become a mother.
As she shared with us the story of her experience with cervical cancer, Anna Jolly’s baby, Paul Nicholas, was gurgling in the background. While most new mothers would be thrilled to have their first child at 30, Anna is especially thankful. Less than a year after getting married in August 2007, Anna, who was 26, went for a routine gynecologic exam. She’d just finished her master’s in education and was looking forward to starting a family.
“All of a sudden, every red flag went up,” she recalled. The diagnosis was high-grade cervical dysplasia. The biopsy results came back positive for squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix, stage 1B1.
“The first three oncologists we saw all said I’d need a complete hysterectomy,” she recalled. “They wouldn’t even discuss any other options. I had no previous experience with cancer – and I really thought I was dying.”
A family friend referred Anna to Dr. Mark Morgan, chief of Gynecologic Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center. “He said if there was a chance to preserve my fertility, Dr. Morgan would do it.”
Anna and her husband Phillip met with Dr. Morgan in July 2008. “We’re devout believers, and we prayed our hearts out waiting for all the test results to come back,” she recalled. “When Dr. Morgan came into the office, he seemed calm and positive. He said everything looked very contained. He believed that a fertility preserving vaginal radical trachelectomy with lymph extraction would take care of the problem and allow us to have children.”
After the surgery, despite having a shortened cervix, Anna was told she should be able to get pregnant, with the baby delivered by caesarean section. Dr. Morgan performed the surgery August 4, 2008. “The next day, I was able to walk out of the hospital. My C-section was more traumatic than this surgery. I recovered well.”
A week later, Anna was told there were no findings of cancer anywhere, and she’d need no further treatment. After several attempts, Anna and Phillip got pregnant in December 2010 – “the greatest Christmas gift ever.” She carried her son to full term, and he was born by C-section in August 2011.
“Dr. Morgan reassured us with his competency from the beginning,” shared Anna. “He felt like family. And when my son was born, the doctor who delivered him said he almost couldn’t tell that I’d had surgery, Dr. Morgan did such an amazing job. He did in four-and-a-half hours what nobody was willing to do.”
Anna and Phillip plan to have more children to keep Paul company. “The best part of the experience was going for a follow up pap smear to Dr. Morgan’s office with our three-month-old son. Dr. Morgan was overjoyed to see this long awaited baby! And I am overjoyed to be a mother.”
If you have a story to share, please write to us at email@example.com.
Be well, Bob
On any given weekend, you can probably find a walk or run designed to benefit a worthwhile cause (see my example to the right). But on April 28 and 29, there are two such events that are near and dear to my heart.
Both were created in memory of young women who lost their lives to gynecological cancers (ovarian and cervical) and both are set-up to benefit the Women’s Cancer Center at Fox Chase. If you’re free either day – or both – I strongly encourage you to join us for a run or walk.
If you’re planning to go to either event, let us know. And if you take pictures, please send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can post them.
Be well, Bob
Sandy Sprint: Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation is hosting its annual Sandy Sprint 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, April 28, 2012. Grab your running or walking shoes, and a leash (for your pup) and join the effort to raise funds to advance ovarian cancer research and spread the word about Sandy Rollman Foundation. Registration is $25 for adults ($30 after April 17), $40 for one adults and one dog, and $15 for children 12 and under ($20 after April 17). For more information or to register, visit www.sandysprint.kintera.org.
The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation was created as a tribute to the life, character, and immense strength of Sandy Rollman. Sandy passed away from advanced ovarian cancer in May 2000. Prior to diagnosis, Sandy experienced many textbook symptoms. Her symptoms were whispering only no one was listening. The tragic result was that Sandy never had a chance against ovarian cancer.
Her sister Adriana Way and her nurse Robin Cohen decided to keep Sandy’s memory alive while trying to prevent other women from having to endure the same pain as she did. The mission of this organization is to educate both women and physicians about ovarian cancer; advocate for early diagnostic testing and more effective treatments; raise funds to advance research towards a cure; and offer support to ovarian cancer patients and their families.
Amy’s Fund: Sunday, April 29, 2012 from 7:30am until 10:30am
The 8th Annual Amy’s Fund 5K Run/Walk is in memory of a very special young woman. Shortly after she married her college sweetheart, Dave, Amy Kligge Vengels was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Amy, who was a strong athlete, wife, daughter and sister, was a fighter and tried everything to beat this disease. Amy believed in a cure and wanted to eventually raise money to support research. To ensure her legacy would live on, and in the hopes of helping others defeat this disease, Amy’s family created Amy’s Fund and organizes an annual walk/run to benefit cancer research at Fox Chase.
Join Amy’s family on April 29 to run, walk, enjoy music, face painting and a fun bus! Registration is $25 for adults, $15 for children under 12. Adults who pre-register before April 15 save $5. Selected t-shirt sizes are guaranteed to all who pre-register before April 15. Adult XL will be provided to all other registered walkers. To register and for more information, visit www.amysfund.org, call 215-632-1663 or email email@example.com.