December 14, 2010

Emily Ingram | Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Survivor

Emily Ingram Hodgkin's Lymphoma Survivor

“Hearing that you have cancer is one of the most devastating things you will ever experience. Hearing that you may have to end your unborn child’s life to save your own is unbearable. This was a choice I thought would have to make until I found hope at UAMS. 

Dr. Peter Emanuel with Emily and Fuller Ingram

Dr. Peter Emanuel with Emily and Fuller Ingram

I was diagnosed with cancer on Mother’s Day, May 9, 2010. I was 20 weeks pregnant with my son. That evening, a relentless cough finally forced me to visit the emergency room. At that time, my worst thought was that I might have pneumonia while pregnant. The idea of cancer had never crossed my mind. A chest X-ray showed a large mass in my chest, and after finding a large lymph node in my neck, the doctor ordered a CAT scan that only proved our fear — I had lymphoma.

After a long night, we were on our way to see an oncologist. During our visit, we learned about the different kinds of lymphoma. Who knew there were so many? There is Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s — and each type has its own subcategories. Now, the question was what kind did I have and what did this mean for my son? This particular doctor told us that in order to receive treatment I would most likely have to terminate my pregnancy. We were devastated. 

The following morning, I was in surgery to have the lymph node removed and biopsied. The results told us that I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, nodular sclerosing. We needed a plan. At the recommendation from many friends and family members, we turned to UAMS for help. 

Within days, I was at UAMS meeting with my new dream team — high risk OB, Dr. Paul Wendel, and my new oncologist, Dr. Peter Emanuel. We discussed a plan that could cure me and allow me to keep my baby. We had hope! 

At that stage of my pregnancy, we could not do a full body PET/CT scan to stage the cancer. We knew I was stage two because it was in my neck and chest. I went through two bone marrow biopsies that showed no signs of cancer. This was good news! Two weeks later, I, with my son, began ABVD chemotherapy. 

After every chemo, Dr. Wendel would do an ultrasound to check on my son. Each ultrasound continued to show a healthy, growing baby who had no clue he was undergoing cancer treatment! The plan had been to take him early, but because we were both doing so well, the due date continued to move forward closer to full term. We were thrilled!  

After seven treatments, on September 14, 2010, I gave birth to a healthy, baby boy! It was one of the best days of my life. Two weeks later, I returned to chemo without my son. On November 19, I finished my treatment for Hodgkin’s and I now hope to be on the road to remission. I will always be grateful for Dr. Wendel, Dr. Emanuel and all of the UAMS staff that have taken such wonderful care of me and my son. UAMS will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Emily Ingram
Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor
Little Rock, Ark.