June 30, 2017
Facing a cervical cancer diagnosis during pregnancy
BY Mena El-Sharkawi
“We were totally blown away,” Misty Wiggs says of finding out she was pregnant with her third child in April 2015.
For 12 years, Misty and her husband had thought that they couldn’t conceive any children. They’d adopted their first daughter in 2007. Six years later, Misty unexpectedly became pregnant with their second child. Still, it surprised the couple when another pregnancy test came back positive nearly two years later.
An overjoyed Misty set up an appointment with a new OB/GYN, who decided to perform a routine Pap test since it’d been two and half years since her last. When her Pap test results were abnormal, Misty wasn’t alarmed.
“My sister has had abnormal cells before and it was nothing, and I’d never had an abnormal test before that,” she says.
Misty’s doctor performed a colposcopy to get a closer look at the cells on her cervix. The results also came back abnormal. Her doctor immediately referred her to Nicole Fleming, M.D., at MD Anderson in Sugar Land.
“They got me in within two days,” says Misty, who was 10 weeks pregnant at the time. “Dr. Fleming was just very comforting. We just had a really good rapport from the first time we met.”
A cervical cancer diagnosis during pregnancy
Fleming repeated Misty’s colposcopy. When the results came back abnormal yet again, she scheduled a cone biopsy, which showed signs of cancer. So, Fleming performed another procedure called a cold knife conization.
Misty’s biopsies revealed that she had stage IA1 mixed squamous and adenocarcinoma of the cervix, a type of cervical cancer. It was caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
“I was crushed. I went to the OB/GYN because I found out that I was pregnant, and all the sudden, I had no idea what the future held for us,” she says.
Because the cold knife conization didn’t detect abnormal cells around the edges of the newly removed tissue, Fleming decided to just closely monitor Misty throughout the rest of her pregnancy.
A healthy baby despite cervical cancer
Misty spent the remainder of her pregnancy on modified bedrest and underwent a scheduled C-section at 38 weeks, giving birth to her son, Paxton, on Sept. 28, 2015.
“We call our first child our gift, the second one our miracle because we thought we couldn’t have any, and the third one our angel because he truly did save my life,” Misty says. “If I wasn’t pregnant with him, I don’t know when I would’ve gone to the doctor and gotten my next Pap test.”
After Misty had healed from her C-section, Dr. Fleming performed an endocervical biopsy and then a laparoscopic hysterectomy two weeks later.
During surgery, Fleming sent a portion of the cervix to pathology for a biopsy, and it came back positive. “There was more cancer there that we didn’t know about at the time,” Misty says. “But the spot that they found during surgery was the only spot, and it was small enough to where it didn’t require any further treatment or surgeries.”
Dealing with cervical cancer during pregnancy
For Misty, cervical cancer has been an emotional journey, especially because she purposely didn’t tell many people about her diagnosis until it was time for her hysterectomy.
“It was too hard to talk about it at the time. When you’re pregnant, you’re very emotional already, and early on, we didn’t know the prognosis and what it would come out to be like,” she says. “But Dr. Fleming presented my case to the rest of the gynecologic oncologists at MD Anderson each week, and they would all come up with a plan. I thought that was awesome. MD Anderson’s team followed my case the whole way, and I felt 100% confident in it.”
Now, she likes sharing her story with others to prove that happy endings are possible for women who receive a cancer diagnosis during pregnancy.
“Keep your faith and depend on your family and friends for any help that they have to offer. Keep fighting, and don’t ever give up,” she says. “We told ourselves that if he was meant to be, he’d make it through – and he sure did.”
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.
TopicsCervical Cancer Screening Women's Health Fertility Risk Factors Screening HPV Diagnosis Cervical Cancer Biopsy Treatment Surgery
Keep fighting, and don’t ever give up.