"I was determined to treat my cancer my way."
—Lynette Bisconti, 43
Lynette was overjoyed late in 1997 when she learned she was pregnant. But a month later that happiness turned to heartache. After having surgery to remove what was presumed to be a benign cyst on her left breast, she was told she had cancer. "The doctors said that the hormones my body was producing would likely fuel the cancer, and that I had to terminate the pregnancy immediately to save my own life," she says. Lynette spent the next few days wrestling with the dilemma of what to do and at the same time began to experience bleeding that made her think she might be miscarrying. When she went in for an ultrasound, the obstetrician told her, "This little guy is hanging on."
Lynette's mind was made up in that moment. "My heart leapt," says Lynette. "I knew that no matter what, no matter how bad it got, my baby and I would get through this together."Biggest Hurdle
Finding physicians who respected her decision. Three weeks after her diagnosis Lynette had a mastectomy. "The lab report was bad. I had an aggressive cancer that had spread to several lymph nodes. I was told that if I went ahead with chemotherapy, which was the next step, my baby might die or be brain damaged." Six other physicians she consulted said the same thing: She had to terminate her pregnancy and get into chemotherapy immediately. "I left every visit crying," she says.
After a truly agonizing first trimester, Lynette got a referral from a family friend that led her to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), in Zion, Illinois, which was 75 miles from her home in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. "At the CTCA I met doctors and medical personnel who treated me with respect and compassion."Advice to Others
If you're not getting the answers you want, keep searching. While going to see more than six doctors may seem crazy, it might be necessary, says Lynette. She was not satisfied until she found a place that would treat her the way she wanted to be treated. She decided to go with fractionated-dose chemotherapy (smaller doses of chemo over a greater length of time), which was considered gentler for both her and her unborn baby. "They also allowed me to refuse antinausea medication and steroids, to avoid exposing my baby to those drugs," she says.Life Goes On
Lynette gave birth to a healthy baby boy on August 31, 1998. "When I held Frankie for the first time, I just thought, We did it!" Frankie continues to thrive and Lynette has been in remission for eight years now.