On August 19 at 6:52 AM, LRG member and pediatric GIST patient, April Calloway Stephens gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Mary Catherine Stephens (nine pounds, one ounce, 21 inches in case anyone is wondering). This is the first time a pediatric member of the LRG has had a child.
April always hoped to be able to start a family with her husband, Heath. “We had discussed this with my doctor and he was comfortable with our plans.”
Her doctor advised her to go five years on Gleevec before stopping treatment and remained in touch with Dr. George Demetri of Dana Farber to get his recommendations and review other cases. “But there weren’t any other cases to guide us, so we had to trust everything would be okay and this was the right thing to do.”
In March of 2006, April stopped taking her Gleevec. In the July & November following she had scans that would let her know what had happened without treatment. “[They] showed no changes, so my doctor was okay with us trying to get pregnant.”
April was always comfortable with her decision to start a family but she understood the gravity of her actions and what that might mean to other patients. “I think stopping Gleevec to start a family is something that each patient would have to consider closely with their doctor. I was fortunate enough to be “No Evidence of Disease” since my surgery in 2000, so my family, doctor and I were comfortable stopping it. There are many factors to consider and there is also still so much being discovered about Gleevec and GIST that might help patients like myself make decisions about stopping Gleevec.”
April will get her first scan since delivering the baby in October. “I am a bit nervous about the scan since it has been almost a year since my last one, but I just pray that there will have been no changes since last November.”
Despite the anxiety and waiting, April is excited to be a mommy. “Being a mother is great! The excitement of having a new baby makes it easy to forget sometimes that I am a cancer patient and I’m about to go back for another scan. She is changing almost daily. She makes the cutest faces and we both love to watch her. We feel so blessed to have such a healthy baby girl!