New mom: I have to live for my son

Meredith Greenstreet was about to turn 31 when she was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. She had given birth to her son, Benjamin, only 11 months before. Meredith and her husband were eager to have another child, but her treatment would likely make that impossible. Read story

Transcript

Summary: After years of fertility treatments and frustration, Meredith Greenstreet got the gift she and her husband had been longing for, a baby boy. Ten months after giving birth, Meredith discovered that she had an aggressive form of lymphoma. Find out how Meredith’s competitive spirit kicked into high gear for the fight of her life and see where she is today. http://bit.ly/2Nl6Sof

Meredith Greenstreet (T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma Survivor, Patient at UT Southwestern): Cancer is - especially a blood cancer - is unbiased. And so you never know if you're going to get that knock on your door.

Narrator: Meredith Greenstreet was about to celebrate her 31st birthday when she was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma.

Meredith: My son Benjamin - when I was diagnosed - was 11 months old. I was first thinking when I got the diagnosis that this doesn't happen to people like me. And I was thinking I'm healthy. You know I go to church, I do everything right. I was terrified. I mean I had an 11 month old. I was terrified that he would never know me.

Narrator: A former college athlete, her competitive spirit kicked into high gear for the fight of her life.

Meredith: I felt that somebody told me that we were racing and they had already started the race. And so I wanted to beat that person. And in that case it's cancer. I wanted to beat it and win because it wasn't fair. 

Narrator: Meredith discussed options with Dr. Madhuri Vusirikala at UT Southwestern. She would need aggressive chemotherapy, which could keep her from having another child after treatment.

Madhuri Vusirikala, M.D. (Professor, Internal Medicine; Medical Director, Bone Marrow Transplant Program): Majority of the patients who get aggressive chemotherapy for leukemia and high grade lymphomas have very, very high incidence of infertility. And when I talk about high incidence it could be as high as 80 to 90 percent

Narrator: Faced with the potential of infertility, Meredith had to make a decision.

Meredith: She told me that she could either save my life or wait 30 days to harvest eggs so that I could try to have more children down the line. Obviously with an 11 month old that wasn't an option. So I told her to go ahead and begin treatment and we would just leave everything else up to God's will.

Dr. Vusirikala: At that point in time she felt it was in the best interest for everyone that she proceed with chemotherapy so she could survive and be there for her first child and be well to be able to see her older child grow.

Narrator: After nearly three years of fighting, Meredith was cleared to seek pregnancy. One month later, she called Dr. Vusirikala to postpone her annual scans.

Meredith: She asked me the reason, and I told her that I was pregnant. And she said that's impossible. And so I had an incredible team of Dr. Vusirikala and my OB-GYN that worked together in tandem to make sure that I was healthy and so was my daughter.

Narrator: Against all odds, her pregnancy occurred without the help of any fertility treatments. Her daughter, Alexis, was born in March of 2015.

Meredith: I feel that because Alexis is a miracle after something that should have been impossible, I feel like she has fighter spirit. But I feel that because she conquered such incredible odds and so did I, that we’re woven from a very, very similar cloth and she is going to light up this world in a big way.

Narrator: Now - seven years after her diagnosis - Meredith gives back through her career with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Meredith: You realize that it's a very dark time in people's lives. And so I got involved with LLS to make sure that other people knew that it was okay to walk this path, that you can survive it on the other side, and give them help for that.