Woman battles breast cancer while pregnant, gives birth during NYC coronavirus outbreak

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A woman was diagnosed with breast cancer and told she was pregnant -- both in the same week in August 2019.

"I had suffered a miscarriage, a year prior and I was devastated with the miscarriage and so finding out I was pregnant was bittersweet because now it was complicated," Rozina Kashem said.

Kashem was fighting for her life and that of her unborn child when she was presented with a heartbreaking choice.

"I was told that I had to terminate the pregnancy. And my world just crashed when that happened, because I really wanted my baby," Kashem said.

Her search for a second opinion led her to Dr. Ruby Sharma at the Northwell Health Center for Cancer, Pregnancy and Reproduction.

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"She was seven weeks pregnant. She told me how excited she was to see a heartbeat on an ultrasound. She was beaming with happiness, but at the same time she was so scared," Dr. Sharma said. "Treating a pregnant patient with cancer is very complex, we're caring for two lives in one body."

Kashem underwent a mastectomy in October 2019, during her second trimester.

"She had a very small tumor luckily and her lymph nodes were negative. Therefore she did not need chemotherapy or radiation," Dr. Sharma said.

By spring, Kashem prepared to deliver her baby, at the same time as the coronavirus outbreak in New York City.

"When they told me that I couldn't be in the hospital, that it might be a possibility I couldn't, my world came crashing all over me because I really wanted to be there. This is my first baby," the child's father, Juan Camacho, said.

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Little Ethan Juan, a healthy baby boy, came into the world on Easter Sunday at Northwell'sLong Island Jewish Medical Center.

"After that, she decided to proceed with reproductive endocrinology options and she preserved her eggs, and she started Tamoxifen after that," Dr. Sharma said.

"I have a 17-year-old daughter and I wanted more children," Kashem said. "I just wanted to really let women know that there are options out there available. I love him. He's my baby."

TUNE IN: WABC-TV SPECIAL 'BREAST CANCER: SURVIVAL DURING A PANDEMIC' AIRS SUNDAY, OCT. 18
Channel 7 Eyewitness News will air "Breast Cancer: Survival During a Pandemic" on SUNDAY, OCT. 18 (5.30 p.m. EDT). Hosted by Eyewitness News anchor Liz Cho, the special features inspiring breast cancer survivors who share their journey of resilience as they face challenges navigating their health during the pandemic.

Seen in our show: Web sites and resources

American Cancer Society
Cancer.org
MakingStridesWalk.org/NYC
800-227-2345

American Cancer Society
MakingStridesWalk.org
For Info on walks & to donate
Northwell Health
Northwell.Edu/Find-Care/Find-A-Doctor
888-321-DOCS (3627)

Northwell Health Cancer Institute
Northwell.Edu/Cancer-Institute
855-858-8550

Northwell Health Center for Cancer, Pregnancy & Reproduction
Northwell.Edu/Cancer-Institute/Center-Cancer-Pregnancy-Reproduction
855-252-5666

Murray Hill Radiology
Radnet.com/Murray-Hill-Radiology/
212-686-4440

Mount Sinai Health System

MountSinai.org
212-241-6500
NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center
NYUlangone.Org/Locations/Perlmutter-Cancer-Center
212 731-6000

NYS Affordable Health Care
NYstateofHealth.ny.gov
855-355-5777

People Living with Cancer
Patient Info., American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
plwc.org

SHARE
ShareCancerSupport.org
844-ASK-SHARE (275-7427)
212-382-2111
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