A news anchor in Las Vegas is battling a rare form of cancer triggered by an incomplete miscarriage, she revealed on Instagram Monday.
The disease that 38-year-old Michelle Velez, one of the faces of KSNV NBC in Las Vegas, fights comes from what is called a molar pregnancy – a non-wavy form that causes a mass like a cluster of grapes to form in the womb.
But in addition to a non-viable pregnancy that could have been surgically removed, Velez's molar pregnancy became a cancer form – an even more rare occurrence.
Velez said her diagnosis was "shocking and frightening," but highly treatable, although the aggressive treatment she will require to beat the disease has already sent her to the hospital for a blood transfusion, she said.
Las Vegas news anchor Michelle Velez (right, photo with her co-host Krystal Allen, left) thought she was pregnant in August . But conception had gone awry and the 38-year-old developed a rare form of cancer from what is called a molar pregnancy
"I'm not really sure how to do this so I'll just give it to you straight," Velez wrote on Instagram.
"As many of you know, I have had some health problems in recent months.
" Honestly, we didn't know exactly what was wrong until now. "
What was wrong was an unusual reflection of conception that becomes either a partial or complete molar pregnancy.
Complete molar pregnancies occur if the ovulated egg that fertilizes sperm is actually empty of genetic material, and then the father's DNA is duplicated, an unsustainable basis for a fetus.
on the other hand, the fertilized egg contains the mother's chromosomes, the father's genetic material still duplicates.
When she was diagnosed with cancer, called choriocarcinoma, Velez had to start chemotherapy immediately to fight the fast-growing, rare cancer
Although the anchor assured her viewers via Instagram posts that her prognosis is "very good" and she will recover, the two-mother says she still can hardly believe that she has cancer
In the former, no normal fetal tissue can be formed, and instead cyst-like fluid sacs from the woman's womb.
Partial or incomplete molar pregnancies may contain some normal fetal tissue, but can never become fully formed or viable fetuses.
The immediate symptoms of these pregnancies include bleeding, high blood pressure, ovarian cysts, anemia and an overactive thyroid gland.
If a miscarriage does not occur spontaneously, physicians usually detect a molar pregnancy using ultrasound and blood or urine tests for nails in some hormones.
Velez and her husband, Alex, had not attempted to conceive, but she was still excited to show him his positive pregnancy test when he returned home on August 3.
She knew it was very early in her pregnancy, but was still devastated when her first ultrasound, three weeks later, did not show a healthy developing fetus.
"When we performed the ultrasound, the bag was empty," she told DailyMail.com.
Velez had not planned to become pregnant when she developed a molar pregnancy. Velez is already a mother to Isabel, two (left) and Cruz, four (right), and knowing that she has a higher risk of a second molar pregnancy, Velez says her focus is on remaining for the two children she has
Velez was excited to tell her husband, Alex, 36 (right to left photo) when her pregnancy test was unexpectedly positive in August. She could never have guessed that it would be the beginning of a tearful journey through cancer, chemo and having to have massive blood transfusions (right)
"There was a pregnancy bag but there was nothing inside and for me, it was really sad, because it had formed, but there was nothing there that lost our child. & # 39;
Her doctor announced that it was best to see if a miscarriage would happen naturally before any medical intervention was performed.
But instead of bleeding and miscarriage, Velez's body behaved the next month as if she were carrying a viable fetus.
"I was really sick and I was confused that if I had miscarriage, why did I get all these pregnancy symptoms?" she wondered.
"I threw up and was tired … it was like I was really in my first trimester."
At the end of that month of illness, Velez returned to his doctor for a second ultrasound.
"Ultr the sound looked different – there was other material there, "recalls Velez.
They diagnosed her with a molar pregnancy – something she, like most women, had never heard of – but assured it was as much treatable condition.
For Velez, the hardest news was that she would have to wait at least a year to try to get pregnant again to ensure that her hormone levels were down and would stay down.
"I was really upset because after a miscarriage … you hold onto the [idea that]" I can have one ", and you ride the wave on it," but Velez wouldn't have the opportunity to try again for anyone walk.
On Tuesday, Velez completed her first round of aggressive chemotherapy treatments
At least her condition could – or so she thought.
But after taking a dilatation and curettage (D&C) to remove the tissue, her HCG hormone levels dropped and then rose.
Velez said that her levels of the hormone, HCG, reached "astronomical levels."
She added: "Essentially, it was like I was pregnant with five children at one time."
Her OBGYN referred her to "the best doctor in town" – an oncologist.
"I said:" I don't want to see an oncologist why do I have to see a cancer doctor? "" Velez remembers asking, panicked.
In only a small percentage of the already rare persistent molar pregnancies, the hormone breaks down and abnormal tissue triggers cancer.
"This is what happened to me," Velez wrote.
"No good reason, just unfortunate stupid happiness."
She was diagnosed with choriocarcinoma, a rapidly growing cancer that begins in the uterus and, in Velez's case, spread to her lungs, kidneys and liver.
"It's ironic. I was always nervous about cancer – I think everyone is – and then it happened to me," Velez told DailyMail.com.
"But most people don't think pregnancy and cancer, it's not something you put together, and that's part of why it was so scary and shocking and nobody wants to talk about it.
"I still think I'm thinking, 'wow, I have cancer.' It hasn't really sunk in yet. & # 39;
However, there was a silver lining.
" Right off the bat, [the doctors] said: "We must not say this very often, your prognosis is very, very good," recalls Velez.
As a public figure, Velez has talked about her rare circumstances and says that many women have reached out to her and said that her story made them feel less alone – but she says it's their stories and strength that help her carr y on (Picture with friend and coworker doctor, Karina Howe, right)
Forgiveness is perfectly safe, but it meant starting an aggressive chemotherapy right away.
Velez's doctor gave her a quick attitude check, noting that patients say that with "" aggressive chemo, all my hair will fall out, "yes, it can, but I tell people" that you should not worry about lose your hair – you should be worried about losing your life. & # 39;
"At least I'm not in a position where that's what I'm facing," she said.
Velez assured her audience that her cancer is curable and said she is deeply grateful for the outpouring of support and commiseration she has received from women of all ages, especially.
She is also grateful for the opportunity to shed some light on the rare condition she is suffering
"When it comes to women's health it is sometimes just a taboo subject and we" I'm not supposed to talk about it and I think these women [who are reaching out to me] see someone in a little more spotlight talking about making them feel less alone, but they actually make me feel less alone, says Velez.
She has just finished her first round of chemo and has already had to be hospitalized after dropping a huge amount of blood.
But she is focused on the goal: to be healthy.
& # 39; Chemo sucks, but it kills this cancer inside me, "she said.
" I have two babies and children put everything into perspective for me: I have to be there for them. & # 39;