The world may seem like a grim place to live in most of the time but every once in a while, you get to hear of truly amazing stories that make it all worthwhile. One of such stories is the inspiring tale of Sarah Wickline Hull who, about 11 years ago, received one of the worst possible news that an expecting mother could ever hear. She was diagnosed with aggressive cancer, and both she and her unborn baby may not make it [1].

The end of the line…not
She shared her story in a motivational Facebook post where she spoke about the medical necessity of abortion. She wrote, “I was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that was cutting off my airway at 20 weeks of pregnancy. I will never forget when the first doctor, an oncologist, mentioned abortion.” [2].

This was not unprecedented as medical experts often advocate for abortion in cases where the life of the mother may be at risk. In Sarah’s case, it seemed like abortion was the logical option as her prognosis meant that she would have to undergo chemotherapy which could end up harming the child she was carrying.

However, Sarah and her husband had gone had been trying for several years to get pregnant and she decided that she would not give up on their first sign of success so easily. In her own words, “I knew I would rather die and give birth.” And she stuck to her guns, after another doctor listed all of the problems which the baby would have if she did not terminate it [2].

Miracles do happen
Sarah stood her ground and refused to abort her child. Her doctors had no choice but to respect her decision but she remembered the doctor commenting: “That is ok. The baby will probably spontaneously abort anyway.” However, she didn’t let this remark deter her. Instead, she did her own research and found good doctors that supported and believed in her decision.

This turned out to be the right choice as she gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 34 weeks. In her Facebook post dated January 25, 2019, Sarah commented, “I will be celebrating 10 years cancer free in May. I have a healthy, beautiful, bright, precious 10 year old daughter who is a living reminder that doctors do not know everything.”

Science finally catches up
There has been some research in recent years that offer hope for pregnant women diagnosed with cancer. According to research studies published in The Lancet, a well-known English medical journal, pregnant women don’t need to have an abortion in order to get treatment for cancer as chemotherapy treatment taken after the first trimester does not affect their unborn child [3].

Another research paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2015 came to the same conclusion. The researchers found that chemotherapy does not harm the development of an unborn baby as “Prenatal exposure to maternal cancer with or without treatment did not impair the cognitive, cardiac, or general development of children in early childhood.” [4].

Sarah isn’t alone as there have been several inspiring stories about pregnant mothers who about mothers who decided to keep their unborn babies even after being diagnosed with cancer. This includes Stacey Johnson who was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant but decided to keep her baby and Gemma Nuttall who decided her unborn child’s life was more important than hers.

References:

  1. Mom With Cancer Refused Abortion to Save Her Unborn Baby Girl’s Life, 10 Years Later They’re Doing Great“, Life News. April, 2019.
  2. Sarah Wickline Hull, Facebook. January, 2019.
  3. Pregnant women can be treated for cancer ‘without harming baby’“, The Telegraph. February, 2012.
  4. Pediatric Outcome after Maternal Cancer Diagnosed during Pregnancy“, New England Journal of Medicine. November, 2015.
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