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Mother’s crusade: Post partum cancer

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Mother’s crusade: Post partum cancer

Carolyn Hendrix of Ripon is passionately leading a one-woman drive to inform new moms about a rare but aggressive post partum cancer where early detection can save their lives.

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POSTED August 13, 2009 2:41 a.m.
RIPON — Carolyn Hendrix wants to save the lives of young mothers – if they will only listen and take one of her brochures.

 It is the Ripon woman’s passion to save other mothers from the heartache of losing a daughter after childbirth.

She works in a Ripon eye doctor’s office and is quick to pass out her brochures to expectant mothers there as well as in a drive-thru line at a local fast food restaurant when she spots the opportunity.

Her one-woman drive to educate as many people as possible about post partum Choriocarcinoma has a spiritual element in its equation, feeling it is now her religious mission in life to help prevent another unnecessary death.

 Through her efforts – saving just one new mom – she feels her 24-year-old daughter Tina’s death might have some real purpose.

Choriocarcinoma is a cancer that develops from a woman’s placenta some 25 days after giving birth, she said.  It is very aggressive and spreads rapidly to other major organs in the body if not caught early, she added.

This particular form of cancer is caused by hormones released in a woman’s body after childbirth.   She explained that the hormones that are actually intended to heal, attach as a cancer or as germ cells in the uterus.

“Once the cancer starts growing, it begins to metastasize throughout the body’s blood supply to other organs.  It can quickly attach itself to any or all major organs,” she said.

In her daughter’s case just eight weeks after giving birth – May 18 of 2006 – she passed out without warning.  She was transported by ambulance to a hospital where she remained unconscious for some six hours – later being medi-flighted to Stanford.

She was eventually sent home, but days later was rushed to a hospital emergency room again where doctors ran a series of tests with her going into a coma.  She subsequently died and it was later discovered she had three malignant tumors and bleeding aneurisms on the brain that caused her death, the Ripon woman said.

It was on May 26 – just eight days after first fainting – she was declared brain dead, her mother said.  It can happen to any woman after a miscarriage, abortion or live birth – to a woman of any age, she stressed.  

Statistics show the cancer occurs in one out of 40,000 pregnancies in the United States. It is more common in Asians than Blacks and least common in Caucasians.  Older women over 40 are more susceptible research shows.

Hendrix is passing out her computer-made tri-fold brochures with zeal to every pregnant woman she sees urging them to be cautious after giving birth.  She said a home pregnancy test 21 days after giving birth is important in detecting the rare cancer as well as being aware of other symptoms that can be found on-line.

She further explained that when the cancer strikes, research shows it comes on about 25 days after giving birth, stressing detection can save lives.  She has personally witnessed five new moms being saved already across the country by her efforts – two in Modesto.

Hendrix said the disease gives a false home pregnancy test result, displaying higher HCG hormone levels.  She explained that 15 to 20 days after having a baby the HCG level should be back to normal – not an indicator that the woman is pregnant again.   A pregnancy test should have a negative reading by that time, she said.

Another daughter, Mandi, recently gave birth to another granddaughter.  Hendrix made sure her hormone levels were back to normal at three weeks, she said.  Mandi was fine.  She has one other daughter, Breanna, still single, she added.

Tina’s husband is raising the couple’s two sons Isaiah and Dominic. “Please remember to pray for Tina’s family,” she asked.

To contact Hendrix or Tina’s family go online at www.InHISgrace60@yahoo.com.
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