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When Lisa Peterson Bender told her story about being pregnant with cancer to MSNBC.com and, later, on the Today Show, one group that she credited with getting her through this difficult year was Hope for Two...The Pregnant with Cancer Network.
The volunteer network of women offers peer-to-peer counseling, emotional support, and simply a friend to say “I’ve been there too.” Following the national news stories, Hope For Two saw a surge of requests for their services. In addition, many women who had cancer while pregnant called to ask how to help others facing the same situation.
"Because of Lisa telling her story, mentioning her support by Hope for Two, we have received an incredible influx of new members looking for support and women wishing to be Certified Volunteer Support Women for our organization," said Susan Musialowski, Patient Coordinator.
The organization seeks to serve women in all socioeconomic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds worldwide and to help women obtain complete and accurate information about their options for dealing with cancer while pregnant. Their volunteers pledge to respect and support every woman’s personal decisions.
The need for more information for women undergoing cancer treatment while pregnant is growing. A Swedish study found that incidence of cancer during pregnancy has more than doubled over 40 years. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 3,500 cases occur each year.
"Our desire is to reach as many women as possible who may be in need of our services and to continue to provide them with hope, support, and information," said Misualowski.
For Bender, her pregnancy had a happy outcome: Alice Virginia arrived on March 13, 2011, with a clear bill of health. Bender continues to undergo treatment for her cancer, but she and her husband hope that they will be able to have a second child when Alice is older.
Photo of Lisa and Alice provided by Hope For Two. To learn more about this program, please click here.