Jodi and Nate Killeffer, with new baby Coraline

Jodi and Nate Killeffer, with new baby Coraline

At 14 weeks pregnant, many excited moms-to-be are sharing the news with family and friends and getting over first-trimester sickness. But Jodi Killeffer’s 14th week of pregnancy was marked by something else—a diagnosis of breast cancer, after inquiring about a lump she had for a while.

After learning the news, Killeffer came to the Brigham to undergo surgery and receive expert care from a multidisciplinary team, including Katherine Economy, MD, of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and Erica Mayer, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

breastcancerribbon“There was an instant connection,” said Killeffer, who lives in Braintree. “I knew I was in good hands and that they would take care of me and my munchkin. And the care was seamless.”

Fortunately, Killeffer did not experience any complications during her pregnancy, and healthy baby Coraline arrived in early September. Though she and her husband Nate are lacking sleep these days, they love being new parents and call Coraline an easy baby.

Killeffer is also more than halfway through chemotherapy, which she was able to start during pregnancy. Economy says that many chemotherapies are safe for pregnant women and their babies. After finishing chemotherapy, Killeffer will undergo radiation.

“Jodi is an incredibly optimistic and strong woman, and she was always focused on the next step,” said Economy, who specializes in breast cancer during pregnancy and has cared for dozens of expecting mothers who have cancer in BWH’s Center for Breast Cancer and Pregnancy. “When we have a pregnant patient with breast cancer, we take a multidisciplinary approach. A surgeon, oncologist and maternal-fetal medicine specialist have a conversation about the best way to get the patient to a good gestational age and receive as much treatment as is safely possible. It has been a privilege to be able to care for Jodi.”

As for getting through a cancer diagnosis while pregnant, Killeffer says that “trusting in the whole process and letting go of control” helped her along the way.

“I kept reminding myself that it was going to be OK,” she said.