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Jane Martinez

Young Mom with Cancer Avoids Hysterectomy

The news was terrifying - Jane Martinez was 29 years old, the mother of a young son and she had cervical cancer. She was told the disease was severe, requiring a radical hysterectomy, and she was unsure of her future.

Friends and family members told her to get a second opinion but at that point, she was paralyzed with fear. She took to cleaning and organizing the home she shares with her son and parents, thinking if the worst happened, she didn't want them to have to deal with clearing out her stuff.

"Then I talked to a woman who had a radical hysterectomy two years ago and she told me her body still felt off," Jane said. "So I started looking online for a doctor who specialized in this type of cancer."

Jane found Sharyn Lewin, MD, the Director of Gynecologic Oncology at the Patricia Lynch Cancer Center at Holy Name and made an appointment.

"She told me the cancer wasn't as severe as I was lead to believe - the tumor wasn't that large - and she could perform a different procedure instead of a hysterectomy," Jane said. "It's called a radical trachelectomy and I would be able to have and carry my own children."

Dr. Lewin, a nationally known leader in the field of gynecologic oncology, heads a team of specialists at Holy Name Medical Center that meets with each patient to create a personal treatment plan. They not only consider the type and stage of the cancer but the patient's needs and preferences to ensure the best outcome and quality of life. In this case, Jane still wanted the option of having more children.

Dr. Lewin performed the radical trachelectomy, a procedure to remove the cervix while leaving the uterus in place. Dr. Lewin and her team are among the few gynecologic oncologists in the region who perform this surgery. Jane had the procedure on a Friday and went home on Monday.

"The surgery was text book perfect," Jane said. "Dr. Lewin is amazing - she educates you and prepares you for what's to come but she doesn't scare you. And the hospital staff was very attentive - if I needed anything, they were there. You can tell the nurses like their job by the way they treat the patients. Even the anesthesiologist made sure I was calm and comfortable."

One of the reasons Jane was eligible for a trachelectomy was that her disease was caught early, before it spread to other organs. She had experienced some mild symptoms that she said just weren't normal for her - feeling constantly bloated and developing two infections in a year - so she went to the doctor. A series of tests revealed HPV (human papillomavirus - a common virus found in the reproductive tract) and then cervical cancer.

After her surgery, Jane said, "I was so happy that I didn't need a hysterectomy but I was also angry that the other doctor didn't give me this option. If she couldn't do it herself, she should have recommended someone else who could."

Today, Jane is cancer free, taking care of her 6-year-old son and back working as a gymnastics coach and wedding photographer.

Learn more about Jane Martinez's gynecologic oncology doctor today