Pregnant but Dying, Army Wife Gives Birth to Son
Diagnosed with cancer 15 weeks into her pregnancy, her one wish was to have him
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2014 8:54 AM CDT
Yesenia Ruiz-Rojo with her husband, stepson and baby Luke this Easter at her family’s home in California.   (Courtesy of the family, via

(Newser) – When 21-year-old Army wife Yesenia Ruiz-Rojo went to the hospital in Fort Hood, Texas—almost 4 months pregnant, seemingly healthy, but experiencing excruciating abdominal pain—doctors discovered a gigantic tumor covering more than two-thirds of her liver. She was diagnosed with aggressive liver cancer and given two to four months to live, reports the US Department of Defense. Just save my baby, she said. But as Raul Palacios, chief of interventional radiology at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, explains, "There was nothing out there we found in conventional medicine that would offer her any hope" of that happening. "We weren't aware of anything in the past that had been tried successfully before."

Its size and location made the tumor impossible to remove, while chemo would likely kill the fetus. So experts from more than a dozen specialties decided to try a new treatment, called selective internal radiation therapy with Y-90. By placing tiny radioactive particles into the artery that feeds Ruiz-Rojo's liver tumor, they hoped to shrink or even kill the tumor, all with minimal risk to mother and baby. The treatment took six weeks, and Ruiz-Rojo went on to have healthy baby Luke at 32 weeks on Jan. 9; Palacios calls the case "a medical miracle." Ruiz-Rojo's own days are likely numbered—she turned down cancer treatments that "would impair the quality of time she has left with her baby," Palacios says. But "I love spending time with my son; he’s beautiful," she said over the phone from a hospice center near her family in California. "I'm so thankful for him." (Click to read about another incredible birth story in the face of a medical challenge.)

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Showing 3 of 23 comments
Jul 7, 2014 12:30 PM CDT
I hope that she lives to see her baby grow up. That's a beautiful miracle.
T Mc
Jul 5, 2014 5:22 PM CDT
Yesenia Ruiz-Rojo I do not know if you will see this, but my mother has pancreatic cancer and the doctors gave up on her back in January. She started using cold laser light (Q1000ng) in March when they kept telling us we needed to sign up with hospice. The tumor is still shrinking and she is getting stronger with each day. I do not know if is to late for you to try this but it seems to be helping my mother. The doctors tell us it will not help but according to the blood work, it is........
Jul 5, 2014 5:40 AM CDT
obviously the cancer treatment was working so I truly don't understand why she essentially gave up and refused further treatment. breakthroughs in cancer treatment have meant that those who would have died 10 years ago are still alive today. while I DO understand her wish to have a few more months (MAYBE) of quality time with her baby, what if it could have been many MORE months, maybe even years, perhaps even a cure?? being a mother myself, and one who had several illnesses requiring surgeries the first year after my son was born, and still managed to take care of him, I just don't understand her reasoning. if I were her ... and I almost was... I would fight to stay alive as long as I possibly could. isn't THAT what is best for the baby?