Leukemia is a type of blood cancer that starts in the bone marrow.
In this story, meet a woman who didn't let leukemia stop her from starting a family she so desperately wanted.
Joe and Lauren Shermer have been married for 5 years and are the proud parents of little Colbie born 6 months ago,
Lauren, a professor at Widener University, woke up with chest pain a couple of years ago so she went to the doctor but nothing was wrong with her heart.
"Your white blood count came back really high. Unusually high…it's gotta be a lab error," Lauren said.
Lauren was diagnosed with chronic mylegenous leukemia also called CML, a slow growing cancer that starts inside the bone marrow. There is no cure.
"it was a little surreal. It puts things in perspective," Joe said,
Most people who are diagnosed with CML are in their 60's…Lauren was 30.
Confronted with a diagnosis they didn't fully understand was hard enough but Lauren and Joe had just started trying to have a family a few months before the devastating news.
But Joe and Lauren were determined to give it a try.
Dr. David Porter is the Director of Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at the Abramson Cancer Center at UPenn. He says ten years ago a new therapy was developed that revolutionized CML treatment.
With Dr. Porter's guidance Joe and Lauren weighed the risk of going off the medication for a few months against the benefits of conceiving a child.
"Basically it came down to you have 3 months to get pregnant if you don't get pregnant in 3 months you have to start treatment again," Lauren said.
"It's unusual for somebody to be able to stop their therapy and have a child," Dr. Porter said.
But it happened and on April 19, 2013 when Colbie was born 3 weeks premature but healthy.
"The fact that it did happen for us so quickly it was amazing…a miracle," Lauren said, "She was tiny but she's great no major health issues. She's thriving. She's growing."
This story isn't finished, Lauren and Joe are thinking about a sibling for Colbie
"I do think there is hope I think you have to have hope because there is hope for a cure somewhere in the future," Lauren said.
The drug Lauren takes to manage her leukemia was discovered using funds raised from the Light The Night Walk.
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