Mother diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy

Posted at 7:11 PM, Sep 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-15 19:39:32-04

CINCINNATI -- Whitney Hoffer was never scared by her cancer diagnosis.

Many other people would have been, especially in her situation. Hoffer was 28 weeks pregnant with her second daughter when she learned she had Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphal system.

Hodgkin's is one of the most survivable cancers in existence, but the physical and mental stress of going through chemotherapy and pregnancy at the same time was something Hoffer had never planned for. It was motherhood, she said, that forced her to focus on solutions instead of worries.

"I was like, ‘Let's get it done. I'm done. I'm over it. Let's go,'" she said. "I couldn't just sit and think about myself. Being a mom at the time was probably the biggest blessing."

According to doctors, around one in 5,000 women will be diagnosed with cancer during a pregnancy. It's a stressful combination of life events -- one that can be made more stressful by fears about whether treatment will be safe for the growing baby. Although chemotherapy can be harmful to a fetus in very early stages of development, according to the American Cancer Society, Hoffer's pregnancy was stable enough for her to safely undergo chemo.

So she went for it.

"We had a miracle in the midst of it all," Hoffer's husband, Billy, said.

Their daughter Madison was born whole and healthy, and Hoffer continued her treatment days later. By September 2017, she was cancer-free.

For others facing cancer diagnoses, Hoffer had this advice:

"Keep going," she said. "You know, get up every day and keep going."