Breast cancer during pregnancy is very rare, occurring in only one in every 3,000 pregnant women. That’s why when Ottawa mother, Jillian O’Conner, felt a lump in her breast while nursing her 1-year-old son she thought it was a blocked milk duck.
Jillian was only 31-years-old and 16-weeks pregnant when she discovered the lump and decided to visit her doctor. At first she was diagnosed with stage two cancer but was upgraded to stage four when doctors found that her liver was enlarged, which meant that the cancer had metastasized.
Most doctors suggest an abortion, but Jillian refused to consider aborting her baby and sought help from a doctor who would treat her while also helping her baby.
Her doctor, Mark Clemons, shared more with the Ottawa news. He said, “‘Jillian is facing not only the challenge of going through cancer treatment while pregnant but she knows her disease is not curable and once her baby is born, we will change her treatment to give her the best chance of long and fulfilling life.”
Now, Jillian has some good news to share. Her baby boy is here!
Declan Kenneth O’Connor was born February 1st, weighing in at 7 pounds, six ounces. His mother says she was in awe when she saw him.
‘I was amazed,’ says Jillian O’Connor, ‘How he could go through so much: 12 rounds of chemotherapy, 1 general anesthetic when I had my mastectomy, mammograms, all of those and he came out perfect. He’s healthy.’
Healthy despite the chemo treatments that Jillian O’Connor was getting while pregnant in order to keep her cancer at bay.
Declan O’Connor is “absolute perfection” says mom.
And on Monday, Dr. Clemons got to meet the little miracle boy, who is now a week old.
‘I feel privileged that we’ve managed to give Jillian the choice to treat her and keep Declan alive and well and deliver a perfect little boy,’ says Dr. Clemons, with the Ottawa Hospital.
‘At a time when there is so much bad international news,’ he adds, ‘the love of a mother for her unborn child conquers all.’
While Declan is healthy, the prognosis is not as positive for his mother.
Jillian’s cancer, which was already in her lymph nodes and liver, has now spread to her bones. Now that she’s delivered Declan, aggressive cancer treatment will begin on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, doctors have given O’Conner only two years to live but that prognosis could change now that the baby has been delivered.
Jillian explained how it feels to be dealing with terminal cancer and pregnancy. She said, “It was a bit scary because you know, when you’re pregnant you don’t want to have a soda that has aspartame, you don’t eat cold cuts, you don’t have anything bad.”
Jillian has underwent a total mastectomy and was treated with a type of chemotherapy that doesn’t cross the placenta.
Jillian concluded, “I want to play with my kids and give them a new brother or sister and live life and be a mom. Obviously I want to be the primary caregiver of my children forever and ever and ever but I also know that there’s so many people so close by who love them.”
LifeNews has previously profiled other brave moms who rejected treatment after a cancer diagnosis so they could save their unborn children.