Chicago Woman Delivered Baby, Underwent Cancer Surgery All in One Day - Tucson News Now

Chicago Woman Delivered Baby, Underwent Cancer Surgery All in One Day

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SOURCE Northwestern Medicine

When she was three months pregnant, Robin Garren learned she had a rare, aggressive form of bone cancer. She also discovered something she never knew she had -- courage.

CHICAGO, May 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When Robin Garren celebrates Mother's Day on May 11, it will be just a month shy of her youngest daughter Sophia's second birthday – and the two-year anniversary of the surgery that saved Garren's life.

In 2011, Garren was three months into her pregnancy when she fell on some ice while shopping. She headed to the ER where doctors said her baby was fine, but decided to X-ray her knee that was in pain following the fall.

"As soon as the doctor walked back into the room, I knew something was wrong," said Garren, who is 30 years old and lives on the northwest side of Chicago. "He seemed anxious and wouldn't look me in the eye. Then he told me that the X-ray showed a shadowing on my bone."

Garren's next step was to see Northwestern Medicine orthopaedic oncologist Terrance Peabody, MD. At 22 weeks, she learned she had an osteosarcoma, an extremely aggressive form of bone cancer. The tumor was in her femur just above the knee and was spreading into her muscle.

"Osteosarcoma is a very rare and very serious form of bone cancer," said Peabody, chair of orthopaedics at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Edwin Warner Ryerson Professor of orthopaedic surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Even though Robin was pregnant, she needed treatment because if untreated, it would kill her. And Robin had to figure out a way to deal with this diagnosis in the best way for herself and for her unborn baby."

Watch a video of Robin Garren's story here.

Peabody assembled a team of orthopaedic, oncology and high-risk obstetrics experts to determine a course of action to treat the cancer while protecting Garren's unborn baby. Chemotherapy was necessary to prevent the cancer from spreading, but the physicians warned Garren that her baby could be at risk for heart defects or other physical and developmental issues.

"I just remember thinking, I will love my baby no matter what," said Garren.

In addition to chemo, Garren would need surgery to remove the cancer from her leg and replace the bone with a cadaver bone. To minimize surgical risk, Peabody performed the cancer surgery on the same day that Garren delivered her baby via C-section. Garren went under general anesthesia and did not wake up to see her baby until both surgeries were completed. Peabody and his orthopaedic team stood by in the operating room while the obstetrics team performed the C-section, then went immediately to work after the baby was born.

Mark Agulnik, MD, was Garren's oncologist. Because she came to Northwestern Medicine, Garren benefited from all of the resources of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center including surgeons, oncologists, psychiatrists, social workers and nutritionists, Agulnik said.

"Robin is simply an incredible woman and an incredible mother," said Agulnik who is also an associate professor in medicine and hematology/oncology at the Feinberg School of Medicine. "One day Sophia will know her mother went through all of this treatment and a surgery that lasted almost a day and that she did it all for her."

After eight hours in the operating room, Garren had a healthy baby girl named Sophia and the leg surgery had been a success. Today, she takes four-mile walks around her neighborhood with Sophia and is looking forward to a summer full of pool time and zoo trips.

She remains cancer free.

"The courage of Robin going to sleep, having all that done and not knowing whether the baby would be healthy – she's got some tremendous courage," Peabody said. "I can't imagine bigger challenges than these and having to make very important decisions. It was very clear in her mind that she was going to have this child, she was going to beat this cancer and then she was going to move on."

For more information about orthopaedic care at Northwestern Memorial, visit our website or connect with us on social media.  To make an appointment or find a physician, call 312-926-0779.

About Northwestern Medicine®
Northwestern Medicine® is the collaboration between Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine around a strategic vision to transform the future of healthcare.  It encompasses the research, teaching and patient care activities of the academic medical center. Sharing a commitment to superior quality, academic excellence and patient safety, the organizations within Northwestern Medicine comprise more than 9,000 clinical and administrative staff, 3,100 medical and science faculty and 700 students. The entities involved in Northwestern Medicine remain separate organizations. Northwestern Medicine is a trademark of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and is used by Northwestern University.

About Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Northwestern Memorial is one of the country's premier academic medical center hospitals and is the primary teaching hospital of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Along with its Prentice Women's Hospital and Stone Institute of Psychiatry, the hospital has 1,705 affiliated physicians and 6,769 employees.  Northwestern Memorial is recognized for providing exemplary patient care and state-of-the art advancements in the areas of cardiovascular care; women's health; oncology; neurology and neurosurgery; solid organ and soft tissue transplants and orthopaedics.

Northwestern Memorial has nursing Magnet Status, the nation's highest recognition for patient care and nursing excellence. Northwestern Memorial ranks 6th in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report 2013-14 Honor Roll of America's Best Hospitals. The hospital is recognized in 14 of 16 clinical specialties rated by U.S. News and is No. 1 in Illinois and Chicago in U.S. News' 2013-14 state and metro rankings, respectively. For 14 years running, Northwestern Memorial has been rated among the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" guide by Working Mother magazine. The hospital is a recipient of the prestigious National Quality Health Care Award and has been chosen by Chicagoans as the Consumer Choice according to the National Research Corporation's annual survey for 15 consecutive years. 

About the Lurie Cancer Center

The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University is dedicated to scientific discovery, advancing medical knowledge, providing compassionate, state-of-the-art cancer care, and training the next generation of clinicians and scientists. Outstanding basic, translational, and clinical research complements a full range of prevention, early detection, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care programs for all types of cancer.

One of only two National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Illinois, the Lurie Cancer Center is a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of 25 of the world's leading cancer centers dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of cancer care, and of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium. Learn more about the Lurie Cancer Center at

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