Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, developed the podcast series Your Stories: Conquering Cancer to showcase unscripted conversations between patients, doctors, and the family and friends who conquer cancer with them.
Brittany Sullivan was diagnosed with cancer while she was pregnant. At the time, her prognosis, or chance of recovery, was uncertain. In this Your Stories episode, “Finding Hope in the Face of Cancer,” Brittany shares how her husband John’s caregiving helped her cope. They also reflect on how even the tiniest signs kept their spirits bright during their darkest days. It’s a story about leaning on loved ones and finding hope during hard times.
Though receiving her cancer diagnosis during pregnancy was among the scariest, it wasn’t Brittany’s first experience with cancer; it was her sixth. She has been conquering cancer since childhood.
Around the time Brittany met John, a cancer recurrence left her needing nuanced support. From the start of their relationship, John’s nurturing ways helped Brittany. “I saw in him his ability to be a caregiver, his compassion, and his tenderness,” explains Brittany. “It spoke love to me in a way that I could understand it.”
Before long, Brittany and John were married and expecting a daughter. But another cancer diagnosis put a pause on their happily ever after. “We found this tumor in my heart while I was 15 weeks pregnant,” says Brittany. “In a way, that pregnancy saved my life.”
Hope starts small
After a particularly difficult visit with her doctor, Brittany found hope in an unlikely place: a public restroom. Inside a stall, she noticed a neon pink sticky note on the door with an uplifting message she holds close to her heart.
“I started crying,” recalls Brittany, who reveals the note’s message in the episode. “What a little gift and treasure.”
Brittany’s care plan, which included a clinical trial led by Conquer Cancer researcher Dr. Breelyn Wilky, was successful. These days, she and John make every moment count with their daughter. Though Brittany and John often felt scared, they never lost sight of the best possible outcome.
“We never felt alone,” shares Brittany. “We had an amazing community surrounding us. And that’s how we’ve made it. We’ve always had hope.”