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article imageFunding drive: Canadian Mom, baby survive birth but cancer spread

By Marcus Hondro     Feb 12, 2015 in Health
A Canadian nurse in Ottawa diagnosed early in her pregnancy with a rare cancer gave birth to a healthy boy last week but has since received bad news. She's fighting but her cancer is spreading and may be incurable.
Newborn "full of goodness"
The most important thing for Jillian O'Connor, 31, is that Declan, her third child, is healthy. He was born February 1 but it wasn't guaranteed to be an easy birth. Jillian was diagnosed with a rare form of metastatic breast cancer.
It was touch and go as to whether she'd survive long enough to give birth, which meant the chances for Declan were also touch and go. Her cancer had advanced so quickly and spread to her liver that she required chemotherapy to keep her alive to give birth. The chemo could have harmed her unborn child and she is overjoyed her son is just fine.
"I feel wonderful," she told the Ottawa Citizen this week. "I feel great after having him. Declan means ‘full of goodness.’ It is very fitting because he is full of goodness.
"Holding him in our arms and knowing how perfect he is, it is just affirmation that (her treatment) was absolutely the right decision we could have made."
Funding for cancer-stricken mom
She and her husband David say they are grateful for the work of Dr. Mark Clemons, an oncologist and researcher at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. He's worked in different hospitals around the world with pregnant mothers with cancer and was able to come up with a treatment regime that kept Jillian alive and did not harm Declan.
Weeks before Declan's birth, the Ottawa Citizen did an in-depth story on her condition and what she went through that can be read here.
This latest bad news about her breast cancer could only be discovered after the baby was born, because tests may have harmed Declan. Jillian is optimistic she is going to keep living — she notes cancer treatment can "turn on a dime" — and is ready to fight to bring up her children.
Without disability coverage or benefits, her husband has to work 12 hours shifts and it is a strain for their other children, Myla, 3, and Landan, only 18 months. Friends have a site to raise funds for the family at They are looking to raise $100,000 and are already at $79,410.
Now that she's given birth she is on a new regime of medications and chemo and though she's been told the cancer is incurable, she has also been told she should get another two years of life.
She said for now she's looking to "add a zero to that two."
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