Oklahoma woman talks about excruciating decision to endure chemo while carrying unborn baby

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OKLAHOMA - Amanda Meyer has always been a fighter.

That is part of the reason why she and her husband, Ryan, tried for three years to have a baby.

Finally, on Easter Sunday 2015, they got the best news.

"I was just sure I wasn't pregnant," Amanda remembered. "But, I took a test anyway, and it showed positive and I was like, oh my gosh, we're finally pregnant."

And, then, a bombshell - terminal cancer.

Not even medical experts foresaw that diagnosis, because Amanda was only 33 years old. 

In fact, several medical professionals misdiagnosed Amanda's pain.

A few weeks after her positive pregnancy test came the confirmation of colon cancer stage IV, which is incredibly rare in someone so young.

Her oncologist recommended terminating her pregnancy.

"I looked at her, and I'm like, if you're going to tell me to terminate this pregnancy, it's not going to happen. We have wanted this baby for so long."

Again, they chose to fight.

"We're not just going to give up that easy," Ryan said. "If she's meant to be, then she's meant to be and we're going to fight every chance we get."

Amanda was determined to beat her unbeatable cancer and conquer the odds stacked up against her unborn baby.

"My last glimmer or hope was becoming a mom. I was just afraid that everything was going to be taken from me. Throughout my pregnancy, we were scared that every treatment I was doing was going to cause us to miscarry."

Steadfast, Amanda pushed ahead with 16 weeks of chemotherapy treatments and two major surgeries to remove the cancerous cyst on her colon.

"I was so scared that I was going to wake up and be told I was no longer pregnant anymore," Amanda cried. "The minute I woke up from surgery, I asked the nurse 'Am I still pregnant? Can I hear her heartbeat, please?'"

The tiny baby heart kept on beating inside a womb that somehow protected the baby from the war raging in Amanda's body.

"Months and months of worrying about the one thing I needed to do to keep myself around was ultimately going to do something to her," Amanda said. "But, we had to try. We had to give her a chance. She'd just survived two major surgeries. What's one more miracle? It could happen."

Pregnancy is not as rare as once was among women receiving chemotherapy.

At Stephenson Cancer Center, oncologists treat a handful of pregnant cancer patients each year.

Emerging research shows chemo drugs can be safe for pregnant mothers after the first trimester.

"If you wait until the formation of the organs is complete, which is about the end of the first trimester, then it doesn't appear to affect the development of the baby," said Stephenson Cancer Center Director of Pharmacy Dr. Patrick Medina. "Long-term, these babies do as well as any other group of babies out there."

Amanda's baby girl,  Ahna Marie-Lynn, was born perfectly healthy.

She was a few weeks early with zero complications from Amanda's chemotherapy.

"I couldn't ask for anything better," Ryan smiled. "Both my girls survived."

Ahna is celebrating her first year of life this month.

And, considering Amanda's cancer is terminal, it is a celebration for both of them.

One of Amanda's cancer nurses offered to host a party.

The Meyers invited friends, family and a guest of honor: another cancer survivor - a woman no one had ever even met, including Amanda.

Amanda said, when she extended the invite, she didn’t really expect her guest to come.

You see, Amanda connected with a small network of cancer moms online, ladies who've endured the exact same thing.

They've all been pregnant with cancer on chemo, fighting for their life and the lives of their unborn babies.

Riley Castro was also diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer during her pregnancy.

Her baby girl, Bryelle, is just a few months older than Ahna.

The Castros drove from New Mexico to Oklahoma to meet Amanda in person.

It was a lovely reunion, of sorts, of two survivor moms who both made complicated choices to try and do it all.

Amanda and Riley both chose to poison the cancer cells in their own body as they prayed that poison would not hurt the unborn life growing inside.

This kind of survival certainly came with risk.

"Had I listened (to the oncologist who recommended termination), I never would have known what it feels like to be a mom. It's the best feeling in the world," Amanda said.

She was given just two years to live, about 18 months ago.

But, Amanda is responding well to treatment and has surpassed all expectations for her pregnancy and her survival.

Amanda is preparing for surgery next month - it will be another giant step forward in her winning the fight against this disease.

There is no cure for stage IV colon cancer, and that is why early detection is key.

Click here for more information on early screening for colon cancer.

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