Ravenna woman, now cancer-free, says pregnancy saved her life

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RAVENNA, Ohio (WJW) – A young, pregnant Ravenna woman said her baby helped save her life by speeding up her breast cancer diagnosis.

Jackie Shaw, 32, could not wait to become a mother. She said things were perfect at 25 weeks pregnant, but as her baby grew, so did a lump.

“It was kind of hard to miss,” she said. “All of a sudden, I got what felt like a golf ball sized lump under my right arm.”

A devastating whirlwind followed where Shaw was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer and was HER2-positive, an aggressive diagnosis. The lump was five centimeters, but the cancer did not spread to her lymph nodes.

Shaw was just 29 years old at the time in 2018 and had no family history of breast cancer.

“I think that with it being estrogen and progesterone positive, my pregnancy kind of sparked that so almost in a way, having my baby kind of saved my life because it made that grow and I found it because I wasn’t someone that did self-checks,” said Shaw.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer remains the most common cancer for women.

However, breast cancer in younger women is rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 9% of new cases in the U.S. are in women under the age of 45.

Shaw said despite several rounds of chemo and treatments at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center at UH Portage, she never lost faith that everything would be okay.

“We prayed for this baby every day and then I spent the rest of the pregnancy praying for that baby’s safety,” said Shaw. “There’s power in prayer.”

Today, her son Grayson is almost three years old and was born healthy.

“There was not one drop of chemo that made it to that baby,” said Shaw who tried not to cry. “So, my body did amazing things and God did amazing things to keep him safe. It was only fitting that he was born Christmas Eve.”

After three rounds of chemotherapy during pregnancy, five more after, then a lumpectomy, radiation and infusions, Shaw was cancer-free and finished with treatments in January of 2020.

Shaw said she is sharing her story publicly for the first time with the hope of inspiring others to advocate for themselves, see their doctor and get the exam that could prove lifesaving.

In Shaw’s case, it was an exam that saved both herself and her baby.

“The sooner you catch it the better your odds and it could save your life,” said Shaw.

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