A breast cancer survivor who risked the return of her deadly disease to get pregnant has fulfilled her dreams of becoming a mother.
Meghan Koziel, 29, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was declared cancer-free three years ago. She previously had a cancerous lump that grew from the size of a dime to that of a ping pong ball.
After the illness, Meghan was put on hormone suppression medication to limit her risks of developing cancer again — but she was determined to be a mother and chose to halt the treatment in order to conceive and carry her baby.
Decisions: Meghan Koziel, 29, from Pittsburgh, was put on hormone suppression medication after having breast cancer. She halted the treatment in order to have a child
Process: The mother was declared cancer free three years ago after having a cancerous lump that grew from the size of a dime to that of a ping pong ball
Stopping the hormonal treatment gave Meghan a 40 per chance of seeing the illness returning.
As part of her cancer treatment, Meghan also underwent chemotherapy, a double mastectomy at the age of 26, 30 rounds of radiation therapy, breast reconstruction, and had her lymph nodes removed.
The mother feared her fertility might have been affected by her cancer treatment and was surprised to discover she was pregnant.
Last month, she gave birth to Kendra Jane, whom the mom has declared a miracle and a testament to not to letting cancer rule her life.
‘I decided for any of my dreams or goals in life I would make them happen, no matter of the cancer,’ Meghan, a paediatric occupational therapist, said.
‘I always dreamed of being a mom, so we took a risky decision to try and hoped it all turned out well. If not, we would be fighting the disease again.
‘Going off hormone blocking medications can increase a recurrence of cancer, so it was a big risk. If the surgeon left one cancer cell in the body, the hormones could have caused it to spread.
Plans: Meghan (pictured left with her husband John) acknowledged that halting treatment was a ‘big risk’ but was determined not to let cancer ‘hold [her] back’ from starting a family
‘I wasn’t going to let cancer hold me back, because if I didn’t have a baby I would just be waiting for cancer to come back.
‘When Kendra Jane was born, it was literally all our dreams come true and as soon as they placed her onto me, my husband and I were crying.
‘I say all the time that she is our little miracle baby. We never thought we would have a child naturally and so are blessed.
‘We are so thankful, as a many people are not granted this opportunity, it definitely makes all the sleepless nights worth it.’
The family hope to have more children in future, but are uncertain whether that will be biologically or through adoption.
‘Because my cancer is hormone-driven and aggressive, they recommended using hormone blockers for 10 years,’ Meghan added.
‘I was on them for two when I had a break and now I’m back on them, so for any future children I’m leaving it to our oncologist to work out the risk versus reward.’
Meghan first discovered a lump at 25, but it was initially dismissed due to her young age and because she didn’t have a family history of cancer.
But when the lump continued to grow Meghan sought a second opinion and following a combined ultrasound, mammogram, and biopsy, it was revealed she had cancer.
‘When I was diagnosed it felt like my life was falling from under my feet, I was told the bad news was that I had cancer, but the good that it could be treatable,’ Meghan recounted.
‘Being diagnosed so young, you think you are going to die, but the reality is that there is a lot of science and tech that help many people survive.’
Family: Last month, Meghan gave birth to Kendra Jane, whom the mom has declared a miracle and a testament to not to letting cancer rule her life
Meghan and her then-fiancé John, 28, hurried their wedding plans and promptly started fertility-saving measures. They had three embryos and seven eggs frozen, knowing that chemotherapy could affect Meghan’s fertility.
Meghan stopped hormone blockers in June last year so the couple could try for children naturally, only to have a surprise months later.
‘I went to the fertility specialist thinking my ovaries weren’t working as I didn’t get my period,’ she said.
‘But the real reason it didn’t happen was because I was already pregnant.’
Meghan and John welcomed their little girl into the world last month and named her after their oncologist, Dr. Jane Raymond — honoring a promise Meghan made to her if she could help them become pregnant.
She now encourages other young women battling cancer to consider their options and find an oncologist who shares the same beliefs as them about fertility.
Message: After giving birth to Kendra Jane, Meghan had a sign placed above her bed, kindly telling other people that she wouldn’t be breastfeeding her newborn and explaining why
‘My oncologist doesn’t believe that cancer should take away the option for a woman to become a mom, and from day one she encouraged me to follow my dreams,’ Meghan said.
‘For me, ever since beginning my journey I didn’t want cancer to take anything else away from me.
‘There was always a fear of cancer coming back, but the way I saw it was that I will always have that fear.
‘I would rather try for a child or any other goal, than feel like my life is being stopped waiting in fear of the cancer returning.’
After giving birth to Kendra Jane, Meghan had a special sign placed above her bed, kindly telling other people that she wouldn’t be breastfeeding her newborn and explaining why.
The pink ‘no-breastfeeding zone’ sign read: ‘Though breastfeeding is a very special task, please be aware before you ask. Our miracle baby will be formula-fed, and it will not affect her future ahead. This mommy is a survivor.’
Meghan shared a photo of the set-up on Instagram, writing next to the snap: ‘Attention please, attention please. We do indeed have a mommy-to-be who had breast cancer and a mastectomy which means, without boobs in the houseeeee!
‘Got the banner raised just in case people are confused at why we are NOT going to be breastfeeding our little bundle of joy. Yes I have foobs, no I do not have boobs (or nipples) therefore… my body is incapable of breastfeeding:)’
While Kendra Jane had to spend a couple of days in the NICU, Meghan and John have since been able to bring her home. The proud mom has since shared several photos of herself and her husband taking their first steps as parents.