Nov. 4, 2019 — Jade Devis was just a few months pregnant when she learned she had a fast-growing type of breast cancer. Her OB-GYN’s outlook was grim, she says: My baby was too young to save, and it was life-and-death for me.”
Within an hour of leaving the office and her telling me that, I was crying in the car, parked somewhere,” Devis says.
But today, after getting a lumpectomy and months of chemotherapy during her pregnancy, this 36-year-old bookkeeper in California is a happy first-time mom to Bradley, a 3-month-old boy. We’re doing really good right now,” she says.
She’s still getting chemo, with her final infusion scheduled for the end of November. Then she’ll get radiation therapy for a month. These treatments, along with surgery, are the main therapies for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), the disease Devis is battling.
Hoping for the best “ [a] cure!!” says her oncologist, Gayathri Nagaraj, MD, of Loma Linda University Cancer Center in California.
TNBC is an aggressive type of breast cancer that’s more common among women under 40, like Devis. It’s called triple negative because it isn’t fueled by the hormones estrogen or progesterone, or by a protein called HER2. That means hormone therapy and HER2-targeted drugs that treat other types of breast cancer don’t work for TNBC, which leaves those who have it with fewer treatment options.
Devis says she suspected something was wrong before her doctor diagnosed her with cancer. In January, just weeks into her pregnancy, she noticed a hard, painful lump above her left breast. The area felt like it was burning. She says her doctor at the time told her it was probably a clogged milk duct. But Devis was skeptical, and she kept voicing her concerns until she got a biopsy. It showed that she had cancer.
I don’t think anybody understood my symptoms,” she says.
Triple-negative breast cancer can have the same signs as other types of breast cancer, and a new lump or mass is the most common red flag. Other symptoms of breast cancer are breast swelling, dimpling, or a nipple turning inward. Since there are a lot of warning signs, it’s important to have your doctor check any changes you notice.