When Geeta was six months pregnant, she found a suspicious lump in her breast--an expectant mom's worst nightmare.
"I was very scared," recalls Geeta, who called her mother in India to ask for her advice. They decided it was too serious to wait, so she immediately went to see Prasanna Menon, M.D., who performed a breast biopsy.
The lump was, in fact, breast cancer, but fortunately it was confined to just one breast. Geeta was then referred to Shane Dormady, M.D., medical oncologist at the Cancer Center at El Camino Hospital.
"Dr. Dormady already had a plan in place when I met with him," says Geeta, who recalls how Dr. Dormady's kindness and warmth helped to ease her fears about treatment, which certainly would be more complicated given her pregnancy.
Geeta had four cycles of chemotherapy during the last few months of her pregnancy, and then had her baby at 35 weeks. Given that he was born early, Geeta's son was small at birth--just five pounds--but was otherwise healthy, with no ill effects from the chemotherapy. "He was completely normal," says Geeta, who recalls the tremendous relief she felt on that special day--10/10/10.
After Geeta gave birth, she had a double mastectomy and then more chemotherapy, which would be an ordeal for any woman but particularly challenging for a mother with a newborn at home (and an older child in elementary school as well).
Geeta says she relied heavily on her relatives, especially her in-laws and her mother, during this time. "My family was so supportive," says Geeta, who was even able to keep her job as a Silicon Valley software engineer. By February 2011, her treatment was complete and Geeta was on the road to recovery.
When asked how her cancer diagnosis has affected her today, Geeta responds, "Life has changed for me. I am more positive, more gracious now, and I try not to complain about things."
Surviving breast cancer and giving birth to a healthy baby boy through it all has truly made Geeta believe she has been given a second chance at life. And, in this new life, Geeta plans to make every moment count.