GREEN BAY-APPLETON, Wis. (CNN/WBAY) — A woman in Wisconsin had a medical miracle. She not only beat a rare form of uterine cancer, but not long after, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
“This is William Lloyd Bittorf.”
Like every proud new mom, Whitney Everard is beaming with pride over the birth of her first child.
“Seven pounds, three ounces, and 19 inches long.”
But this little guy is giving her the ultimate reason to glow. He’s a sort of a medical miracle.
“Definitely not where I thought I would be not even two years — a year and a couple of months after — but really happy with what we have,” said Everard
In November of 2018, Whitney went to the doctor, concerned about abnormal bleeding. Weeks of tests and waiting turned into a dreaded diagnosis, a tumor in her uterus that had to be removed — just to find out what it was.
“Whitney had a low grade endometrial stromal sarcoma, which is less than 0.2 percent of the uterine cancers that get diagnosed every year, so it’s about a one in a million type of uterine cancer,” said gynecologic oncologist Dr. Erin E. Stevens.
And at only 26 years old, almost unheard of.
Stevens remembers telling Whitney the best medical treatment was a second surgery to perform a complete hysterectomy — eliminating any chance of her getting pregnant and having children.
“She said thank you very much for your opinion, but no, I’m not going to have a hysterectomy,” said Stevens.
“I wasn’t going to let not knowing what was going to happen decide that we never have kids, so I guess, instead of ignoring the unknown, we just, decided we’d find out what happens,” said Everard
Dr. Stevens made her consult other medical experts who also advised surgery, not children. But a determined Whitney and her family began researching their options, looking for other women with this rare cancer who’d had kids. She says it was hard to find even a few in this country.
“I had my mind made up, but I was unsure if it was the right decision necessarily,” said Everard.
“I think she very well understood the risks that could happen, but we can’t predict the future,” said Stevens. “And just because cancer behaves a certain way in a textbook, doesn’t mean we have to follow the textbook because cancer also doesn’t behave the way we write about it in a textbook.”
So a few months after removing the tumor and seeing no signs of more cancer Dr. Stevens gave her the blessing to try for children. Barely three months after that, an elated Whitney called with good news.
Her team of doctors — including her obstetrician and Dr. Stevens — carefully monitored Whitney through the entire pregnancy, unsure what would happen.
“This is a hormonally sensitive cancer,” said Stevens. “It grows with estrogen, and the risk of being pregnant when your hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone go sky-high, is that if there were cancer cells left behind that I couldn’t see with my eyes at the time of surgery, her cancer could grow during her pregnancy.”
But at 36 weeks and one day, Whitney delivered a healthy boy via C-section — and no sign of any cancer.
“To be able to be a part of a young woman having a uterine cancer and then having a baby after that is really a unique and special experience,” said Stevens.
While she’ll still need a hysterectomy at some point, Whitney hopes to add another child to their family, too.
“If it helps, like somebody else who’s 26 years old and told that they have this, too, and they might never have kids, at least there’s now one example of somebody who did. And we’re doing good,” said Everard.”