Gabrielle’s Pregnancy Saved Her Life

“Cancer was the last thing on my mind”

Cancer was the last thing on my mind when I started noticing blood in my urine and having abdominal pain. I underwent extensive fertility treatments in 2021 to have my baby and was 16 weeks pregnant when I first saw the bleeding. I was so afraid that it was a miscarriage, so I went to the ER. The doctors confirmed that all was well with my pregnancy. I was diagnosed with a UTI and given antibiotics. I kept having this strange intermittent bleeding throughout my pregnancy, and we were assuming it was a UTI since they are common during pregnancy. In March 2022, I delivered a healthy baby girl, Autumn, and the bleeding stopped. I continued working on my coursework for my doctoral program and enjoying my baby girl until one day, the bleeding returned.

Gabby and her daughter, Autumn

A “mushroom” in my bladder

Having the bleeding come back was a shock to me because we assumed that it was related to my pregnancy. I spoke with my OB/GYN and requested a CT scan to better determine the cause. To my surprise, there was a “mushroom” in my bladder. It seems when Autumn was in my abdomen and pressing up against my bladder and the tumor, it caused the bleeding to start sooner than it normally would. I was in shock but relieved to finally find out the cause of the mystery bleeding. A week later, I saw a urologist and had the tumor completely removed via a TURBT (trans urethral resection of bladder tumor) without any complications. I was given one dose of Mitomycin and have not had any issues since. I am now under appropriate care and management, which has helped ease my nerves.

I no longer take things for granted

Although the stress of having this diagnosis at such a young age was frightening and I was I worried about the cancer returning. I was, however, able to get back into the swing of things with taking care of my newborn and continuing work on my PhD. Although cancer is not a diagnosis anyone wants to hear, it has helped me appreciate all of the blessings and support that I have in my life and certainly made me more thankful. I feel stronger saying that this is something I overcame once and could again if I had to. As of now, I am no longer taking things in my life for granted and enjoy each day to the fullest while still working on achieving my goals.

It is important for me to tell my story and be a voice for women who are in my age group to know that this can affect any of us but at the same time, it does not mean it is the end. When I was searching for a bladder cancer advocacy organization, I ran across BCAN and reached out because I wanted to be able to advocate for others, especially for younger people who experience common bladder cancer symptoms to go out and get checked. I also wanted to share my story and let people know that not everything you experience from a bladder cancer diagnosis is a horror story.

My beautiful baby girl saved my life

The very good news is that I am getting my PhD in health psychology and in a field where I could be a voice for younger people to advocate for their health.  That helped me recover emotionally and move past my bladder cancer diagnosis.

Sometimes, good things can come from bad.  I have received tremendous support from my family and appreciate them all the more.  I also have a beautiful baby girl: my daughter saved my life, and she is truly my miracle baby.