Indian Land mom diagnosed with rare cancer while pregnant

“Nothing prepares you for cancer and nothing prepares you for cancer while you’re pregnant,” said Ashley McAdams, 35. 

McAdams couldn’t wait to bring her daughter into the world. In the fall of 2017 she found out she was having a second child, this time a little girl.

Not long before she got pregnant, she found a lump on her neck which she initially ignored. After finding out she was expecting she decided to get it checked out. Doctors came back to tell her that she had gray zone lymphoma. It was news that turned her world upside down.

“It’s a very rare lymphoma that has features of both Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” said Dr. Bei Hu with Levine Cancer Institute.

After speaking with her doctors Ashley made the decision to move forward with chemotherapy during the pregnancy. She was going in for treatment every two weeks.

MRI results revealed that her lymphoma was growing instead of shrinking. Doctors decided she needed to deliver Lilly at 35 weeks.

“It was a weight off my shoulder. She was here and healthy and didn’t have to go to the NICU which was amazing,” said Ashley.

After giving birth, another round of more powerful chemotherapy was ordered. This would be her third round of chemotherapy. Dr. Hu also ordered a stem cell transplant using Ashley’s own cells.

“It can be a life or death situation for many of our patients depending on the blood cancer and this can be a curative option,” explained Dr. Hu.

In March of 2019, Ashley went through with the transplant. She is now in remission. She was also the 500th patient to go through with a similar transplant in five years at LCI.

“The happy news here is that Ashley is completely in remission,” said Dr. Hu. Hu and her team are continually expanding treatment regimens and looking for cutting edge ways to fight cancer.

“People who have the transplant tend to do better than people who just receive the traditional chemotherapy,” added Hu. The transplant essentially replaces damaged bone marrow with healthy stem cells.

Ashley gets more time and a second chance. Holding her two children Lilly and Logan will never get old. After all, they are her reasons for fighting so hard.