When Kassandra Cerda, from Mission, Texas, fell pregnant with her son, the last thing she was expecting was to be diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant, especially at such a young age. But that wasn’t the only thing she wasn’t expecting. She also spent the last months of her pregnancy and her baby’s birth in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kassandra was 20 weeks pregnant and just 27 years old when she got the news that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was pregnant and I didn’t think something like that would happen to me,” she said.
But that wasn’t even the worst of the news. Doctors initially thought Kassandra’s cancer was contained to one area, but they later discovered that it had entered her lymph nodes as well.
Shortly after Kassandra’s diagnosis, the COVID-19 pandemic infiltrated the United States, quickly leading to nationwide lockdowns and no-visitor or one-visitor policies at hospitals. Kassandra began chemotherapy treatment for the disease in April and was subject to new rules during her treatment, such as wearing a mask and not being able to have friends and family come with her during her appointments.
Through it all, however, she remained courageous and stuck to her plan. Kassandra gave birth on June 17, 2020, to a baby son. She was given two to three weeks to recover from childbirth before she’ll have to return to treatment in Houston.
Kassandra’s friend Janie Hernandez wanted to help her out during her long journey back to health, so she created a GoFundMe page to help offset the costs of Kassandra’s treatment and let her know that she’s not alone in her fight.
The donation goal was $15,000, but the page has already raised more than $16,000. Strangers also sent their well wishes and words of encouragement. “My mom is a two-time cancer survivor and one of the most important people in my life,” said one donor. “We’re all rooting for you! You got this.”
Cancer patients are at a high risk of infection as they undergo treatments like chemotherapy and are particularly susceptible to COVID-19. As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, it seems likely that Kassandra and others with an immunocompromised status will be spending more time indoors and away from our friends and family. It’s so important to let each other know how much we care during this lonely time!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?