“Hope for Two has been there for me since the beginning. I was paired with a support woman who was there to answer my questions and who was there just to check in to see how I was. It felt good knowing that there was someone I could talk to, someone who would understand.”
Faith, Hope, Fearless
Simone Meade-Holt and her family.
On January 26, 2015 my life changed. Changed completely. I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. I was devastated. I thought the worst. I was also late on my period.
After taking a home pregnancy test that same day my fears were realized. I was pregnant. I was flooded with emotions. I was confused. I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad so I cried. The tears were tears of pain, uncertainty, fear yet a few drops were for the new life I carried, love.
Would I make it to the end? How would I be treated? Could I be pregnant and have breast cancer. I cried. I cried for weeks on end. I felt alone, beaten, devastated.
Although I had family and friends to support me they wouldn’t understand what I was going through. No one did. In order to feel what I was experiencing you had to have walked in my shoes.
Kind words and support poured in but I was still scared. Would I live? Would the baby survive? How do I tell Chase? He’s always wanted a sibling, would his dream come true?
Visits to the doctor were overwhelming. I tried to put on a brave face but deep down I was screaming, my head was pounding. Doctors asked if I would consider terminating the pregnancy so that I could start treatment right away. I told them “no, that wasn’t an option”.
Surgery was done in March at twelve weeks pregnant. I almost didn’t have surgery because I feared it would harm the baby. A sonogram the day of surgery revealed the tumor had grown. I had no choice.
Chemotherapy started at twenty-two weeks. Four rounds. In preparation for my hair loss I started cutting my hair. I lost it all after round two.
The pregnancy was progressing well. The baby was growing. I was anxious at each perinatal visit. I was glad to see the sonograms and see my baby growing.
At thirty weeks I started feeling sick. I couldn’t eat. Would this cause the baby to stop thriving? Was this the end I kept thinking. I tried eating, nothing stayed. I started losing all the weight I gained.
My parents died young. They were both in their thirties. Was this the end for me?
Chaz was born at thirty-four weeks through induction. The cord was wrapped around his neck causing his heart rate to fluctuate. He was here, a healthy 5 lb. baby boy. Even during labor I thought I was going to die. I would die giving birth, but I asked God to keep me until my kids no longer needed me.
Active treatment is finally over. It has been a whirlwind for the past fifteen months. Fifteen months of agony, fifteen months of pain, but in the midst of it all joy, happiness, love, life. Recent tests showed the tumor was gone but the next five years are crucial. I believe in miracles. I believe God heals. Each time I had dark thoughts I forced myself to remember God’s mercy. His love.
I no longer question “why me” but rather “why not me”? I am a soldier in the army of the Lord. My testimony of God’s grace and healing power will help someone else. I am strong because I have lived through pain. I am a survivor, I will live. My strength came from knowing I was not alone. No one truly knew or understood what I was going through, how I felt. I hid behind my smile.
When I look at how far I’ve come and what I’ve been through I praise God for keeping me, healing me and giving me the will to fight, the will to survive, the will to win.
Being thirty-five at diagnosis I urge those under the age of forty to do your self exams. It saved my life.
I no longer hide my scars. I wear them as a badge of honor and they serve as proof that God heals.
On January 26, 2015, my life changed. Changed completely.
Behind my smile is a story you wouldn’t understand.
It came, we fought, we won.
My miracle baby, my healing: Chaz
My cancer journey began in September 2013 just five and one half months after the birth of our first child and three and one half months after my last pap, but it would take me another eight months to be diagnosed. I began having severe pain in my lower abdomen and bladder area so I went to the doctor and was told it was most likely a urinary tract infection and put on antibiotics that were safe to take while breastfeeding. (more…)
Zoila and her twin baby boys, Joel and Julian, shortly after birth.
In 2007, Zoila Pasos found a lump in her breast when she was just a few weeks pregnant. Not long into the pregnancy, she miscarried. While she allowed her body time to heal, she had the lump checked and was told it was a benign cyst and nothing to worry about.
Zoila’s twins, Joel and Julian, with Haydee’s son, Emmanuelle.
Six months later, Zoila was expecting again. Around 12 weeks, she decided to move from Miami back to her native California. She noticed that the lump in her breast was growing, but chalked it up to the pregnancy hormones.
When she finally saw her obstetrician to begin prenatal visits, he scheduled an ultrasound for her baby, and for the lump. Zoila’s additional genetic screening also indicated a likelihood of downs syndrome, so she also needed amniocentesis. It was a busy week.
At the ultrasound the next day, Zoila discovered she was having twins! She was mostly shocked and excited, but still anxious about the amniocentesis. She wanted to make sure everything was okay with her two babies.
The day after her ultrasounds, she received a call from the doctor about the lump in her breast. A biopsy was the next step, and it she needed it right away.
“The whole time, I just assumed my [breast] implant was leaking fluid,” said Zoila. “I was so worried about the amniocentesis and the results of that test, I never once dreamed that the lump was cancer.”
On December 26, 2007, Zoila’s obstetrician called and referred her to an oncologist. “What do you mean, an oncologist? Cancer?” Zoila was stunned.
When she saw the oncologist the next day, the news was grim. An abortion without delay was his recommendation. She had Stage 3C Invasive Ductal Carcinoma breast cancer. The lump was seven centimeters big and the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. It was literally feeding off of the increased estrogen produced because of being pregnant.
Zoila with Haydee’s son, Emmanuelle.
When she questioned the oncologist about keeping the babies, he saw no alternative.
“He basically refused to treat me. If I didn’t have an abortion, he did not want to be liable,” explained Zoila. “He did not give me any hope.”
Reluctantly, she went to the abortion clinic orientation. At the initial appointment, she walked out.
“I was going to die either way. If I went through with it [abortion], I would’ve died of depression,” Zoila said.
That’s when she went home and started researching. She found Hope for Two and Dr. Elyce Cardonick (maternal-fetal medicine specialist). She heard the words, “no, don’t have an abortion” and it was just what she needed.
Dr. Cardonick was able to refer to a new oncologist at UCLA Medical Center who reassured her, she was going to be fine. Around that same time, Zoila received the great news from her amniocentesis test—her twin baby BOYS with perfect chromosomes!
Zoila received four rounds of chemotherapy during pregnancy. At 32 weeks—on April 4, 2008—she delivered Joel and Julian via planned cesarean. Two weeks later, her bundles of joy came home together.
Postpartum, she received six more rounds of chemo and underwent a double mastectomy. After surgery, infected lymph nodes threatened to complicate her recovery, but after four more rounds of chemo and seven weeks of radiation that ended four days before the boys turned one, she was cancer free.
Haydee with her husband and son, Emmanuelle.
In 2013, Hope for Two called Zoila. A new member from New Jersey who only spoke Spanish had a similar cancer diagnosis, and she needed a support woman who could speak her language.
“Haydee had the same cancer as me, with an almost identical story,” said Zoila. “The initial lump, and being told it was nothing to worry about. It was when Haydee got pregnant and the lump grew that more tests revealed she had Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma breast cancer.
Zoila and Haydee spoke every day. At the time, Zoila’s oldest daughter, Tatiana, was attending St. John’s in New York City. When Zoila went to visit her daughter, she made special trips to see Haydee.
“It was a tough time for Haydee, but she made it through and gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Emmanuelle, on March 30, 2014.” Zoila said.
With Haydee in remission, the daily calls have stopped, but the two continue to talk weekly, and exchange text messages and photos regularly.
“My boys are healthy, energetic six-year-olds in the first grade. To think that they wouldn’t have been here, if I had listened to that first doctor, it’s just incredible,” said Zoila.
“I had a support woman and was in touch with Dr. Cardonick throughout my entire journey. Hope for Two, and how it started—with the founders going through what we went through—was so inspiring, I decided I had to become a support woman,” she added.
I offer you my story as one of Hope. Breast cancer has always been like an ominous cloud lurking in my life. My great grandmother, grandmother and mother all died of the disease. My sister and I were both diagnosed within the same year and are BRCA2 positive. On October 8, 2004, I was diagnosed with a very aggressive Stage 3 breast cancer with several lymph nodes involved. I was 34 years old, 16 weeks pregnant with our twin boys and a busy mother to our 5 year old daughter. (more…)
I found bilateral painful breast lumps at 7.5 weeks pregnant (April 17, 2000) and because I was pregnant, there seemed not to be any urgency to prove or disprove the cause for the lumps (the lump in my left breast disappeared with hot compresses in 5 days, but the right lump remained). A ‘non urgent’ ultrasound was booked some 5+ weeks later (May 31) and upon radiologist review and recommendation, I had a complete lumpectomy on June 2 under local anesthetic. (more…)
I competed in my first sprint triathlon “Tri for the Cure” in March 2013. I was competing for my aunt fighting lymphoma and other family members who had died of cancer. Little did I know I would be competing with cancer myself. (more…)