In a remarkable tale of faith, strength, and survival, a mother diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with her fourth child made a resolute decision: to prioritize her baby’s life above all else. Two years later, her story stands as a testament to unwavering conviction and the power of belief.
Jessica Hanna, a devout Catholic of Lebanese heritage, and her husband Lamar Hanna, of Iraqi-Caribbean descent, are both pharmacists residing in Detroit, Michigan. They always dreamed of having a large family and are proud parents to four children under the age of 7: Christopher, Mary, Joseph, and Thomas.
Jessica’s journey began in 2019 when she gave birth to her third child. Hoping to expand their family further, she became pregnant again the following year. However, her joy quickly turned to sorrow upon receiving a devastating cancer diagnosis. Yet, abortion was never a consideration for Jessica.
Firm in her belief that life begins at conception, Jessica stood resolute in her decision to protect her unborn child. She firmly believed that adding another trauma, such as abortion, would not solve the initial trauma. To her, abortion was not a healing solution but an additional source of pain.
In December 2020, while pregnant, Jessica received confirmation that a benign dimple in her breast was cancerous. At 14 weeks pregnant, she was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma. Despite expecting to hear suggestions of abortion, she firmly stated at each medical appointment that terminating her child was not an option.
During her first meeting with a Canadian surgeon, Jessica experienced a profound disrespect for the life growing within her. The surgeon’s primary concern seemed to be avoiding the legal requirement to resuscitate the baby should Jessica go into labor during the surgery. Shocked and disappointed, Jessica refused to grant them the option to abort her child.
Compelled by her faith and the need to share her journey, Jessica started an Instagram page called Blessed By Cancer. Through this platform, she connected with another pregnant woman battling cancer who recommended a Michigan-based surgeon. This newfound connection led to a phone call with the doctor, who showed deep respect for the life of her unborn child.
Determined to receive the care she needed, Jessica and Lamar crossed the border into the United States, despite COVID-related travel restrictions. Armed with property deeds and medical insurance papers, they successfully made their way to Michigan.
However, even in the United States, Jessica faced further encounters with medical professionals suggesting abortion. Their lack of information and insensitivity only strengthened her resolve. She knew that certain chemotherapies were safe during pregnancy and chose to pursue treatment that would not harm her unborn child.
On January 8, 2021, Jessica underwent surgery to remove the tumor. However, her post-surgery awakening brought distressing news. Overhearing nurses discussing the removal of lymph nodes under her arm, she realized the cancer had spread. The surgeon delivered the devastating news to Lamar, warning him to prepare for the likelihood that Jessica was in stage four and terminal.
Days later, pathology reports confirmed the worst fears. Jessica’s supposedly small tumor turned out to be much larger, and all 43 lymph nodes tested positive for cancer. While doctors did not suggest terminating her pregnancy, they cautioned that the radiation scan necessary to identify the cancer’s spread would not be possible if she carried to term.
Undeterred, Jessica’s unwavering conviction led her to choose treatment while safeguarding the life of her unborn child. She knew that even if she were diagnosed as terminal, her baby would be healthy. Her doctorate degree in pharmacy and extensive research empowered her to make informed decisions, defying the notion that chemotherapy and childbirth were incompatible.
On May 30, 2021, Jessica gave birth to her fourth child, Thomas, after completing four rounds of chemotherapy. With her dream of a large family realized, Jessica sailed through her cancer treatment with surprising ease. Despite the initial concerns, she appeared healthier than ever before, attributing it to her faith, diet, and possibly the pregnancy itself.
Miraculously, all postnatal scans, including a brain, spine, and chest MRI, showed no signs of cancer. Jessica’s doctors were astounded by her progress, referring to her as a “walking miracle.” While her treatment plan shifted to additional rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, she is now one year in remission and remains steadfast in her daily prayers for continued healing.
Jessica’s remarkable journey demonstrates the power of faith and the indomitable spirit of a mother’s love. Her conviction to protect her unborn child and trust in God allowed her to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Her story serves as an inspiration to others, highlighting the strength that lies within each individual when faced with adversity.