Pregnant, With Breast Cancer: From Chemo to Baby Cameron

Traci Mulder Health Guide
  • My name is Traci Mulder, and I am 40 years old. I have been a breast cancer survivor for six years, since 9/11/2000, and this is my breast cancer story.

    Read part two of my breast cancer story: Pregnant, With Breast Cancer: From Breast Biopsy to Can I Have My Baby Back, Please?


    Immediately following my breast cancer diagnosis, my thoughts turned to my unborn child. What would happen to my baby? I learned soon thereafter that the baby, who would have been a little brother or sister to my sweet son Cameron, was not meant to be. With this loss weighing heavily on my heart, I went through a painful recovery process post-mastectomy, before I started chemotherapy.

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    Choosing An Oncologist


    Before the chemotherapy port was placed in my chest, I had to choose an oncologist. I was referred to a couple different oncologists, one of whom would select the appropriate chemotherapy regimen for me. The oncologist I decided on was so popular that we had to schedule an early-morning appointment for before his office even officially opened. 


    That morning, as my husband, Eric, and I sat in the office waiting for the doctor, I thought to myself, “This man is the one who will attempt to save my life by pumping me full of poison.” I focused on the negative connotations of the word chemo while contemplating the treatment that would save my life. It seemed to me the ultimate oxymoron, a healing poison. 

    When the oncologist walked into the room, I liked him almost instantly. He was not overbearing, not arrogant, not cold or impersonal. I later found out that he himself is also a cancer survivor. He sat down with us and took as much time as we needed to explain why he thought we should do what he was proposing. The oncologist wanted to use four different types of chemotherapy drug.  He wanted to be very aggressive due to my age. I was only 34. He wanted to make sure that whatever cells drug A didn't kill drug B would, and whatever chemotherapy drug B didn't get, C would and whatever C didn't, D would. You get the picture. 

    The ChemoPort

    It had only been three weeks since my mastectomy, but time was of the essence. Within the next week, after selecting my oncologist, I had a port surgically put in. Hours later, I was hooked up to begin my first chemotherapy treatment.


    In spite of my oncologist’s soothing demeanor and convincing explanation about the importance of this chemo regimen, I hated the word chemo and was terrified at the prospect of beginning treatment. The word alone sent chills down my spine and made my heart feel as if it couldn't beat any faster if I were running a marathon. I felt myself move beyond anxiety to true unadulterated terror… 


    Looking back on my chemotherapy, I wouldn’t say that there’s nothing to be afraid of, but I found that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. For the most part, my treatment went without incident.  I had the normal subsequent nausea from it, but after playing around with different medications, we finally found the right cocktail of drugs that worked for me. 


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    Clipping Off My Hair: From Mohawk to Muppet Style


    My hair began falling out on day 14, exactly as I had been warned. That night, after we put Cameron to bed, I ceremoniously gave my husband the clippers. Leaning over the sink as I watched both hair and tears fall, I couldn’t help but worry about what my son’s reaction would be the next morning.  As I was worrying about our son, my husband was worrying about me. 


    Eric, in his typical light-hearted style, proceeded to first give me a mohawk, then shaved me into Beaker from the Muppets and then finally left one little curl coming down across my forhead.  The two of us laughed together as we cried.  Somehow, it felt liberating to laugh so hard in the midst of our grief. 


    What Would Cameron, My Baby Son, Think of My Bald Head?


    The next morning came. I put a warm fuzzy hat on to disguise my baldness and made my way to my son’s crib, praying silently along the way for calmness and strength no matter how my son responded.  


    I placed Cameron on his changing table.  Smiling up at me, he reached for my hat. As he pulled it off I began to cry silent tears, afraid of what his reaction might be. Would he be scared of me? Would he recognize me?


    First Cameron smiled, then began to giggle.  I let that sweet, sweet sound replace my fears and sense of loss. Cameron reached for my naked head, placing a hand on each side.  He just rubbed it and giggled again.  That giggle just filled my heart with such relief that my tears of fear turned to ones of joy. I just thanked God.

Published On: June 18, 2007