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Ill woman has baby after forgoing cancer therapy

TAICHUNG -- A breast cancer patient who chose to put her unborn child before her own health has given birth to a healthy baby girl, her doctor said yesterday.

The 35-year-old woman has been breast-feeding the infant since her delivery a month ago, said Hsieh Chang-hsing, director of Cheng Ching General Hospital's Reproductive Medicine Center in Taichung.

The woman was surprised last fall when she was told she was 11 weeks pregnant in the second year of a five-year hormone treatment for breast cancer, the doctor said.

She had been previously diagnosed with stage-three cancer in her right breast and had undergone surgery and chemotherapy, which usually causes women to stop menstruating and reduces the likelihood of getting pregnant.

Under normal circumstances, Hsieh said, a doctor's advice would be to continue with the hormone therapy, which could adversely affect the fetus and terminate the pregnancy.

Hsieh said the patient, who did not have any children, was torn between the two options and the doctor advised her to take an Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) test first to assess her ovarian reserve, or egg supply.

It turned out that the woman had an AMH level of 0.34, compared with the normal index of 2 to 6 for women of her age, which meant she would soon stop menstruating and would not be able to get pregnant in the future, Hsieh said.

After learning the information, the woman made up her mind to keep the baby and dedicate the rest of her life to her child, Hsieh said, quoting her patient, who cannot be named out of privacy concerns.

Hsieh said statistics have shown that post-cancer patients who give birth to children tend to have a more positive attitude toward life and live longer than the patients who don't.

“I was able to see this mother's emotional transition during pre-natal visits,” Hsieh said.

The woman became more positive when she decided to grab the one and only chance and embrace a new life, he said.

The doctor also said tests have shown that the mother's condition remained stable during her pregnancy and she is now considering whether to resume hormone treatments once she stops breast feeding her child.

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