Facing a cervical cancer diagnosis during pregnancy

“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.