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Orlando woman diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant receives final chemo treatment, celebrates with traditional bell ringing

Tears of joy gathered in Ivette Bailey's eyes as she celebrated her final chemotherapy session at Florida Hospital by ringing the “Cancer Free Bell,” a tradition that marks the end of a patient’s chemo treatment. 

Ivette, 41, was diagnosed with stage II lobular carcinoma last fall, while in her second trimester of pregnancy. After undergoing a mastectomy and starting chemotherapy, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Juda earlier this year. Bailey, who lives in Orlando, also has a 7-year-old son named Isaac.

“I was very scared and afraid. What’s going to happen to me? Will I be able to make it and deliver my baby with no problems? Am I going to be able to see my kids grow up?” Bailey said. “All of those things never cross your mind, especially when you’re pregnant. You never think something like this can ever cross your path.”

Breast cancer during pregnancy is very rare, occurring in one out of every 3,000 pregnant women. According to the American Cancer Society, surgery for breast cancer and chemotherapy is generally safe for the baby if given later in pregnancy, and typically doesn’t have an effect on the baby’s well-being.

“Breast cancer is typically seen in women who are in the second half of their lives, rather than in their 30’s or 40’s… it is also uncommon in pregnancy,” said Dr. Robert Reynolds, medical director of the Breast Cancer Program at Florida Hospital, who treated Bailey along with Dr. Kamy Kemp. “I’m encouraged that she will be well and healthy in the future.”

The mother of two is now able to celebrate the start of a cancer-free life after enduring months of intense therapy. The bell rings in the end of a fight, and it’s the marker between treatment and healing.

“[My baby] was with me in the first portion of my fight, so we have a special bond,” Bailey said. “I’m very happy. I feel blessed. I accomplished a big goal today.”

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