Welcoming a new life into this world is usually a thrilling ride that starts with a healthy pregnancy. As we know, sometimes expectant moms encounter a few bumps along the way but in the end, it’s worth it.
Registered nurse Aleks Patete ran into more than a bump during her pregnancy. When she and her husband Dominic got the news, they were over the moon about having their first child. At seven weeks, Aleks went for a routine prenatal ultrasound and learned she had a cyst on one of her ovaries.
Doctors performed a biopsy and determined that Aleks had stage 1 ovarian cancer. Aleks had no symptoms and no idea that she had cancer. Faced with the scary decision about if and how to proceed with treatment, she considered her baby.
Her medical team and some family members suggested Aleks terminate the pregnancy in favor of an aggressive treatment plan. It was a tough decision. There were risks and uncertainties. Wrestling with what to do, she chose to have her son. With her mind made up, physicians had to figure out how to save Aleks and her unborn child.
Over five months, Aleks received low doses of chemotherapy at University Hospitals of Cleveland (where she’s also employed). Together, she and baby underwent treatment that included scans, chemo, and a surgery.
Doctors were concerned whether chemo was affecting the baby, so they wanted to end her treatment early at 34 weeks. She had regular ultrasounds to check on the baby’s health, and at 37 weeks, gave birth to a baby boy. In April 2017, Dominic III was born healthy! Aleks credits her son with saving her life and couldn’t stand the thought of terminating the pregnancy:
“He saved my life,” she says. “Now it was my turn to save his life.”
Because they caught the cancer early, it didn’t have a chance to spread to the rest of her body. A few weeks after Dominic’s birth, Aleks had another surgery and is now in remission. Since she plans on having more children in the future, they only removed the ovary, fallopian tube, and lymph nodes that were impacted.
So far, her follow up tests have come back negative for cancer, and the family remains optimistic. Aleks beat cancer and had her baby! She calls him her little miracle baby. Click on the video to see the cutie!
Ovarian cancer is deadly and difficult to detect, and makes up a little over 1% of new diagnoses in the United States. According to a study published by NIH, to have ovarian cancer during pregnancy is rare. But as it was with Aleks, it’s commonly discovered when women go for a pregnancy-related ultrasound.
Without that test, it’s possible that the growth on Aleks’s ovary could have ruptured, leading to the cancer metastasizing to other parts of her body. Now, mom and son have a shared story about survivorship that can be celebrated along with little Dominic’s birthday. A double miracle!
What are your thoughts on this amazing story? Were you ever faced with a choice like Aleks’s?