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Cindy’s Story (Choriocarcinoma, Molar Pregnancy)

Cindy's Story ChoriocarcinomaHello, I am a mother of four, aged sixteen to 22 months. I live in California and am married.

Most women get a baby after pregnancy. However, my pregnancy gave me a baby and cancer. Actually, two babies and cancer. That’s right. I got cancer from my pregnancy. Who knew such a beautiful milestone could turn into a life threatening event? This is the problem: lack of awareness and informational knowledge.

Molar pregnancy is known as gestational trophoblastic neoplasia or GTD. Not all molars turn into this fast and aggressive, malignant placental cancer, choriocarcinoma, but mine did.

There are two types of moles: partial and complete. Both are grape-like germ cells that give off pregnancy symptoms. In a partial mole, the egg is fertilized by two sperm, doubling the sets of male chromosomes and therefore developing fetus abnormalities. The pregnancy has to be terminated if not miscarried naturally.

In a complete mole, the fertilized egg has missing DNA/chromosomes and is therefore unable to support the pregnancy, stopping at the placenta. These cells are more susceptible to turning malignant, enhancing the chances of choriocarcinoma. I had a rarer case of a complete molar pregnancy alongside a baby, meaning it was her twin. I was not diagnosed until four months after my daughter’s birth, and oncology suspects the molar pregnancy was fully gestated around 25 weeks into my pregnancy.

As complex as this disease is, the realities are severe and real. I had regular pre-natal care, and the only signs or symptoms during my pregnancy were contractions at around 25 weeks. These contractions grew stronger and stronger, yet my OB/GYN could not find anything wrong. He put me on mild rest, and then told me to quit working out. This was my fourth pregnancy, so I knew these were not Braxton Hicks contractions.

I didn’t make it to the hospital, as my baby was born in the ambulance en route to the hospital. I had postpartum bleeding for eight weeks, which was my second symptom. I mentioned my bleeding to my OB/GYN, and he seemed to think everything was alright, especially after a physical exam.

Shortly afterward, up until four months after giving birth, I bled intermittently and had menstrual-like cramps. I was breastfeeding exclusively, so I began to get suspicious. I finally woke up one night, hemorrhaging and in a panic. The following day, I had no bleeding, so I had some temporary relief until the next day, when I passed some fairly thick blood. I knew then something was terribly wrong.

My OB/GYN saw me that morning and did a vaginal ultrasound, and we saw the grape-like cluster image. I was admitted to a local county hospital. It took twelve hours to officially diagnose me, after several tests and massive hemorrhaging. The date was February 1,  2014, and I began chemotherapy on February 4th. My B-hCG levels were over 221,000 and I became resistant to single methotrexate injections, so I was put on the grueling EMA/CO 5 agent regimen. I had a total of twelve rounds of chemo over six and a half months. Every other week was inpatient following outpatient. If caught in time, choriocarcinoma responds very well to chemotherapy.

My baby will be two years old this September. She is healthy and said to be out of harm’s way regarding cancer, though she did lose her twin. We are very blessed to have put this behind us and to have the great opportunity to move forward with precious life.

My continuing goal is to reach out to others who have faced or are facing this and to those who have lost their daughters to it. I am also big on awareness and gaining funds for Dr. Goldstein’s exclusive choriocarcinoma/GTD research and treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I have a Facebook page, Choriocarcinoma & Molar Pregnancy Awareness, and a Facebook support group, Choriocarcinoma & Molar Pregnancy Support.

UPDATE 3/13/16: Seven months after publishing her Power Story, Cindy is still in remission, and her beautiful daughter is now two years old and doing great (as you can see!).

Cindy Daughter Update Choriocarcinoma

Submitted 08/26/2015

The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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  1. Ashley

    I had GTN and didn’t have any signs or symptoms until I stared bleeding a week before my first ultrasound with my first pregnancy. Was taken to the ER. I was fortunate the doctor found out what was wrong with me, but I will never forget the moment he came in to the room to tell me I wasn’t pregnant and had to explain what it actually was to me. I remember every scan and every oncologist appointment. It’s something that I will never forget. I was very lucky that I only had to have the methotrexate injections and that my body took to that treatment plan, it worked and now I have a healthy little boy. I love being a mom and am so blessed and grateful that my second pregnancy was healthy with very minor complications. I wish there was more awareness for GTN and GTD. I was the first case that my oncologist had ever had and one of three that he had heard of in the state that I live in. It’s very rare but it does happen. More women need to be aware of these kinds of things.
    Thank you for your article. It’s nice to know you aren’t alone when you go through something like that.

    • Geraldine

      46 years ago there were no scans but my first sign was the bleeding. As I was supposedly about 3 months pregnanat they thought I was about to miscarry. Nothing happened but the bleeding continued and it was another 7 months when my baby was not developing properly they decided something was wrong and to operate. It was only then it was found to be a molar pregnancy and for those 7 months I was very poorly and after the operation bled so heavily I was taken back into theatre. I’m so pleased that there are now scans which can show this early instead of having to wait and wait and wait

    • Cindy Lupica

      Thank you.? There are more of us out there than realized!

    • Cindy Lupica

      Congratulations on your rainbow baby! I’m also glad the single methotrexate worked for you!

  2. Geraldine

    I had a molar pregnancy 46 years ago when less was known about it then. I was given very little information only that I may not have any more babies and that it could be cancer. I saw a GYN privately who explained it to me in detail. He told me it was rubbish that women are not able to have more babies!! He told me to try for another………9 months later my gorgeous daughter was born and 15months after that my 2nd daughter arrived. I still know little or nothing about it but am so grateful that I did have my 2 gorgeous girls after such a heart-rending sadness.

    • Cindy Lupica

      Congratulations! Medical has come a long way, but more still needs to be done for preventive care!

  3. Bobbie

    I gave birth to my beautiful daughter in August 2014. I had a tubal ligation with my c section.So October 30 of this year I had a ton of positive pregnancy tests. I have had all sorts of illness since I had my daughter. I went and had a d &c and my tubes cut because they assumed I was having a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy since my tubes were tied. I had an emergent call from my doctor last week. I have just now, 15 months postpartum, been diagnosed with choriocarcinoma. I’m pretty nervous about what such a late diagnosis could mean.

  4. Tshidi

    I was diagnosed with molar pregnancy in October 2005 and because I was misinformed about the molar pregancy and quit going for follow ups in the hospital. In February 2006 had cramps below my abdomed then contacted my gynae he did series of tests told me to return after 2 days to my shock after the results he received he referred me to hospital for investigations I was told that I have cancer – choriocarcinoma. I was depressed but had to accept my situation through the support of my colleagues and family had chemotherapy for 4 months then was cleared. I am now 41 years but already in menopause I dont have kids but I am planning to have 2 through egg donation.

  5. Gabby

    Found out at 9 weeks pregnant that I had a complete molar pregnancy and just found out after all the follow up blood work that it has turned into gtn- I’m petrified but and so relieved reading these stories. It’s glad to know I’m not alone. I literally asked my doctor “am I the only one this has happened to?”. I definitely agree there needs to be more awareness on this terrifying topic

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