CLEVELAND-- Hope is 8 months old and already has a story to tell. It started before she was even born.
Her mom, Jessica Dykstra of San Diego, was not quite six months pregnant when a scan showed a problem and a follow up confirmed the worst.
“That was also the day we find out if Hope was a boy or girl. So we had an ultrasound and an appointment with the urologist, and he said we're 95 percent sure this is kidney cancer and you have an 8-centimeter tumor on your left kidney," Dykstra said.
Her doctors in San Diego felt the best course of treatment would be to remove the entire kidney. The tumor was perched near vital blood vessels and would be difficult to remove just the cancer
But at 25, with two young boys and a girl on the way, losing a kidney was risky because if the other kidney failed over the years, she would be on dialysis. So she began to look at other options.
“We were praying about it at home. We I just didn’t have peace about being operated on and at least, if I was going to be operated on, there's a doctor who's done something like this in pregnancy," Dykstra said.
Dr. Georges Haber at the Cleveland Clinic had done a similar surgery a year earlier. But in Jessica’s case, they decided to wait until the baby was born.
“We don't want to operate on a pregnant patient unless we have to because we have to take into o consideration the health of the mom and the health of the baby." Dr. Haber said.
Jessica said it was a long four months wait until Hope was born. There was the risk that the tumor would grow or spread, but luckily it didn’t.
A week after the baby was born, she was in surgery at the clinic.
“She's a young patient and we wanted to preserve as much of the kidney as we can so it's important for somebody who's young to keep both kidneys as possible. So the goal was to remove as much of the tumor and save as much of the kidney," Haber said.
With a two-hour laparoscopic surgery, Dr. Haber and his team were able to save 80 percent of Jessica’s kidney with only a tiny scar on the outside to show for it.
Dykstra said that allowed her to get back to her busy life of dealing with two small boys and a beautiful baby girl.
She said this has taught her to not only take care of the health of those around you, but to care for yourself.
“You can look around and take charge of your own health," Dykstra said.
Her husband, Nathan, actually delivered Hope at home. They were on their way to the hospital when the baby had other plans.