It all came at once: the nose bleeds, the headaches and the large, intense bruises randomly appearing all over her body.
Cassandra Taylor didn’t know what was happening to her. But whatever it was, it was bad timing.
Taylor, a 30-year-old social worker with the Indiana Department of Child Services in Miami County, was six months pregnant and gearing up for her first baby shower for her daughter, Cynia, when the symptoms hit in September.
The bleeding and bruising were just too much to ignore, even with a baby shower just days away, so Taylor went to the hospital for blood work.
“I honestly thought I would go in and the doctor would tell me my iron was low,” she said in an email interview. “I would have my supplement changed, and go back home. I had it all planned out in my mind that if it was something worse, I would just ask them if I could go home and have my baby shower on Saturday and then come back. Boy, was that wishful thinking.”
The next day, she was lying on a hospital bed at St. Vincent’s in Indianapolis with a staggering diagnosis.
Taylor has leukemia, and not just any kind of leukemia. It is a very rare and aggressive form of the disease called acute promyelocytic leukemia. It only appears in around 700 people every year in the U.S.
Taylor said there are also only a handful of case studies on this type of leukemia in pregnant women in the U.S.
“Never in a million years would I have expected to hear that I had leukemia, and the rarest form at that,” she said. “Here I am, 5-and-a-half months pregnant, and my first thought was, ‘how would this affect our baby?’”