Pregnant Woman Copes With Cancer - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/22/08

Pregnant Woman Copes With Cancer

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It was three months ago that we first introduced you to the Devitt family, Brent, Christie and little Connor, with one more on the way. Well, it's that little girl on the way who has brought joy and concern to this family, and a first to Arrington Cancer Center.

"She is a really a strong woman with a strong faith. I think she's really made good choices." That means a lot coming from oncologist, Dr. Ibrihim Shalaby. He is referring to Christie Devitt, whose "choices" have been raising eyebrows, even among the medical community.

And that is the reason for this story. Christie says, "I can see the concerned faces. So I think it's important that others, as well as the nurses, are educated on the reasons why it's safe for me to have chemotherapy during pregnancy."

You remember, we last checked in on 29-year-old Christie Devitt when she was just a few months pregnant and diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. It was at least a relief that chemo would not begin until she was in her second trimester, allowing time for the baby's early development and time for her faith to grow too. Christie gave her testimony at Aldersgate Methodist Church, a moving account which has since been played by many on God Tube.

Today, at seven months pregnant, Christie is now 30 years old. Her very short hair reveals to most that she is a cancer patient and her growing tummy makes it obvious she is pregnant as well.  Whether sharing time with husband Brent and young son, Conner, or sitting in the hospital tied to chemotherapy, Christie is honest when she says she can't help but worry what others think.

"Sure," she says while undergoing chemotherapy. "Because I'm not here because I want to be. Of course, it's by choice, but it's a necessity for me to save my life and to save my baby's life too."

So, how does it work, giving someone drugs powerful enough to kill the cancer but not so much that it would threaten the baby?  Dr. Shalaby says this case is a first for Arringon Cancer Center, but similarly, 57 women at M.D. Anderson have paved the way.  He says he has been following the studies at M.D. Anderson carefully and says confidently,"There was really no negative impact or outcome of women who choose to continue the pregnancy versus those who terminate the pregnancy."

Dr. Shalaby explains that three chemotherapy agents will attack the cancer now.  A fourth will be added after the baby is born, along with radiation.  You see, a pregnant woman can have chest x-rays because they can protect the baby by shielding the tummy.  But radiation is a different story - the same with scans to see if the disease has spread. That is all too risky for the baby, which is why that part of Christie's treatment will have to wait until after the baby is born.

In the meantime, ultrasound shows Christie's baby looks healthy on the inside and beautiful on the outside.  High tech 4D ultrasound even allows you to count fingers and toes. But still, how can a baby handle chemotherapy?

Dr. Shalaby says mainly because the molecules in those three chemo drugs are large, making it difficult to cross into the placenta.  And, if the medical books listed another factor in Christie's favor, Dr. Shalaby says it would be prayer.  He smiles when he says, "The power of prayer is definitely a major factor here."

That, along with the support of friends.  Christie says the messages on her Care Pages have been the best medicine of all.  Roll up the names on her Care Pages and you'll see this from Holli, "God works for the good of those who love him." Phyllis sends this encouragement, "I live in awe of your journey and relentless spirit."  And Jamie tells her, "Thank you Christie, for being my inspiration." Those are just three of the dozens of well-wishers who regularly send their love and support to Christie. 

So, if you happen to see this lady around town and notice that she has barely any hair and a very pregnant tummy, Christie Devitt wants you to know she is in good hands.

"I figure if people ask me, it just gives me the opportunity to tell them about what's going on in our lives and how God is protecting me and baby girl," says Christie.

'Baby Girl" is due to arrive July 19th, so this story of faith and medicine is to be continued.

3/12/08
Pregnant Lubbock Woman's Fight With Cancer
Meet Christie Devitt - a Lubbock woman who is pregnant, coping with cancer and a true inspiration. Here's her story.

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