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Siobhán Post and her husband were thrilled to learn she was pregnant with twin boys. Five months later, the 35-year-old non–smoker was diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer.
Over the next few years, Siobhán experienced the happiest and the darkest of moments in her life.
“At first I was in denial, I wanted to focus on the pregnancy,” said Siobhán.
On March 6, 2009 after delaying chemotherapy and radiation treatment until she reached 33.5 weeks in her pregnancy, Siobhán delivered two healthy baby boys – later dubbed by her care team as the “miracle babies”. She began her chemotherapy and radiation treatment at Princess Margaret five days later. Although this treatment controlled the cancer locally, new tumours were found a few months later and she had to start a new form of chemotherapy.
Siobhán’s cancer responded well to the new chemotherapy, but in July 2010, her resistance was tested again, this time with a brain metastasis. She underwent five days of intensive whole brain radiation.
“I experienced a lot of nausea and lost my hair,” said Siobhán, “but the radiation worked. I was stable and left with only a pin-sized lesion.”
As her hair started to grow back, she said, “the twins liked touching the soft peach fuzz, and my husband kept things positive stating it was the Demi Moore look!” By late 2010, Siobhán had experienced more than most people in a lifetime, but the worst was yet to come.
In September 2010, she was the first patient in Canada to try a new ALK (Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase) clinical trial drug (crizotinib) to help fight her cancer – instead, she was left fighting for her life. She was deemed a ‘palliative’ patient with only months to live.
“I remember telling my doctors, I’m not ready to go yet,” said Siobhán, to which they replied, “you aren’t ready, but your body is.”
In early December, Siobhán remembers hearing a distant voice – one that changed her life.
“I want to see you out of this bed, those boys need you by Christmas.”
The voice belonged to one of her nurses, ‘Nancy’.
“So I did just that,” said Siobhán, “with a positive mind set and attitude that I wasn’t going down without a fight.”
“I practiced sitting up for longer periods to build my strength, careful not to deplete my energy, and with the help of crizotinib, I was out of bed just before Christmas.”
The crizotinib kept her cancer in remission for almost a year.
When Siobhán’s cancer started to grow again in March 2012, Dr. Frances Shepherd, medical oncologist at Princess Margaret, started her on a clinical trial drug (LDK 378, a drug so new it hasn’t been named yet).
Today, this drug is keeping Siobhán alive and once again her tumours are shrinking.
“Dr. Shepherd is straight and to the point – I love that she says it like it is”, says Siobhán. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her and many others.”
Siobhán`s twin boys, are now three and a half years old; they love playtime with Mommy!
“They are my motivation to keep fighting,” says Siobhán. “I want to see them graduate, get married and someday, meet their children.”
Siobhán's story is part of our World Cancer Day courage series. World Cancer Day is February 4 - get the facts: www.worldcancerday.org.