Pregnant Lubbock Woman's Fight With Cancer - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/12/08

Pregnant Lubbock Woman's Fight With Cancer

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Christie Devitt says she credits Dr. Ronelle Burley for saving her life.

Dr. Burley is an OB/GYN, the person who recommended Christie get a mammogram, even though she was just 29-years-old; and had recently finished nursing her first child, a boy; and had just learned that she was pregnant with her second child, a girl.

Dr. Burley told Christie it was probably just a clogged milk duct. But, she also told her, "It's very easy to say OK, you're pregnant. This is not a cancer. Let's deal with this after your pregnancy. ‘It just goes to show that regardless of what's going on in a pregnancy, sometimes we still have to say ‘this is what we need to do.'"

It turns out that thickened spot in Christie's breast was Stage Three Cancer. Immediately, surgeons removed her right breast and all her lymph nodes - cancer was in 12 of them.

Soon after, Christie began chemotherapy - with a powerful attitude. She laughs when she tells people, "At our house, we're ready to kick some cancer butt."

Christie is also quick to point out that her husband, Brent, is her rock and the head coach in this fight. But Christie also has a strong team of doctors at Joe Arrington Cancer Center who are planning the right strategy to keep this little family together and protect this little baby girl on the way.

Dr. Burley says, "My goal is just to deliver this baby. And everyone else is going to get us to the point of delivering a healthy baby."

That includes Dr. Bill Atkinson, a high risk fertility specialist, who says breast cancer shows up during pregnancy in one in 3,000 or 4,000 births, but that could be changing with the times.

"We have a situation where we are seeing older women becoming pregnant," Dr. Atkinson explains. "And the prevalence of breast cancer would be older, so we'll probably start seeing it more frequently."

Treating a cancer during pregnancy requires the delicate task of formulating the right recipe of drugs that are strong enough to help the Mom, but not hurt the baby.

Dr. Atkinson offers some reassurance that it can be done. "Well, the chemotherapy agents that they have chosen, studies have shown that once you're out of the first trimester, they can be used."

So Christie waited to begin chemo until 13 weeks into her pregnancy. She's thankful, though, that she didn't wait to get checked by a doctor when she first noticed that spot on her breast.

"If I hadn't been doing self exam, I probably wouldn't have noticed that.  And I may not be sitting here talking to you today. So, I think it's important that women act on their gut and if they feel something, don't wait," she says.

Dr. Burley adds this reminder, "Young women can have breast cancer. And if there's a concern, regardless of what's going on, we need to take care of it."

There is one treatment that Christie began immediately after her diagnosis and that's prayer. It's something Dr. Atkinson says is perhaps the most powerful medicine.

"We do pray with our patients. This office is very spiritually based. We know that it is part of the treating and healing process," he says.

Christie tells people there is one scripture that often comes to mind. She paraphrases Mathew:5 like this:  "Basically, it says God put us here to be a light and He's not going to put us under a bucket, but that He'll put us up really high on a light pole for everyone to see His glory."

With Pastor Mike Schafer at her side, Christie shared her testimony with the congregation at Aldersgate United Methodist Church. That intimate chat has since seen hours of play on godtube.com. All who listen to her story can tell the chemo has taken her hair but not her faith. Because she says the Greatest Healer is working on her - and a healthy baby girl will be added to their family in July.
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We'll check in on Christie again later to see how she's doing. In the meantime, a lot of people are wearing prayer bracelets to show their support. You can learn more about that by contacting Aldersgate United Methodist Church or you can send a message to Christie through www.carepages.com

There is also a medical fund in Christie Devitt's name to help with the many cancer costs that are not covered by insurance. You can donate at any City Bank location.

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