AFTER HER FIRST pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, Patrizia Durante fell into a dark season of sorrow, a time full of doubts. Confused and depressed, she wondered if she had done something wrong that such a misfortune should come upon her. So when she became pregnant again a few months later, it was as if the sun had risen to scatter the fog. She was elated. She registered at the baby store, ordered new furniture, and picked out pretty clothing and nursery items. A financial adviser, Patrizia made plans to stay home from work for the first year after her daughter’s birth.
Her happy world crumbled, though, when, in the 26th week of her pregnancy, results from a routine glucose test revealed that she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Further testing showed that she also had acute myeloid leukemia (AML)—a mixture that is rare and difficult to treat. Her doctors gave her a 50/50 chance of survival.
Patrizia remembers how she recoiled from the news. “When a doctor tells you at 26 years old that you may die, it’s like nothing you can imagine. I was totally in denial. I was young. I had no symptoms. We were all in shock. It took a while to sink in.”