Carrie Broussard and family

Carrie Broussard gave birth to a healthy baby boy on May 1, after finding out she was pregnant in the midst of treatment with Gleevec. She named him Caelum, which in the Celtic origin means ‘brave warrior’ and in the Australian origin means ‘a gift.”

Little Caelum is both to Carrie, and after reading the first part of our series on family planning in the April newsletter, she wanted to share her story with other women with GIST.

Carrie was diagnosed with GIST in 2011 after giving birth to her first son, Dodson. Because her tumor was ruptured and she had liver abscesses, she wasn’t able to start on adjuvant Gleevec right away.

“At the time, my doctors told me not to have children while on Gleevec,” she said. She said she was heartbroken because she wanted a big family, but she began using an IUD to prevent pregnancy and planned to stay on Gleevec for several years.

She had been on Gleevec for 13 months when she learned that despite the IUD she was seven-weeks pregnant.

“I stopped Gleevec—figuring it’s better to be safe,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was really on my own.”

While there isn’t a lot of data on pregnancy and GIST, the prescription information on first-line drug Gleevec clearly warns of risks if a women stays on Gleevec during pregnancy and advises patients to use a form of birth control. Several studies indicate mixed results for women who stayed on Gleevec during pregnancy, with some babies being born with similar deformities and others without complications. 

Novartis Pharmaceuticals, maker of Gleevec, the FDA’s approved first-line treatment for GIST, is currently conducting a clinical trial on pregnancy and exposure to those drugs but results won’t be ready until at least 2014. See more here.

Carrie feels blessed that Caelum’s birth went smoothly. “I think I made the right choice,” the 32-year-old mother said. She lives in Virginia with her husband, Les, and their two sons. Les is serving in the Navy and is stationed in Virginia Beach.

Her concern now is how the fatigue she expects to set in when she resumes Gleevec will impact her ability to parent a two-year-old and a newborn.

“I know how exhausted I got when I was on Gleevec,” she said. “Hopefully, my energy levels will pick up.” She also hopes to eventually resume work as a physical education teacher, a job she left after she was first diagnosed.

The LRG recently started a Facebook group for women that focuses on family planning issues that Carrie has been following. “I think it’s a great idea,” she said, indicating that any women who want to ask her about her experience can contact her there or email her directly at

Pregnancy outcomes in patients with CML treated with Imatinib. Read the new abstract from PubMed that talks about pregnancy outcomes in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

LRG Contributor
Author: LRG Contributor