Leigh Ingram’s story is a graphic illustration of evolving cancer treatment and the importance of a second opinion.
She was diagnosed with tonsil cancer when she was sixteen weeks pregnant. Three doctors recommended she end her pregnancy and start treatment immediately. Instead, she asked one more doctor what he thought.
Leigh and Mike Ingram treasure every day with one year old, Layne. They were close to never having her.
Leigh shared, “Even though three people had told me that we should terminate, I felt like we needed to go to another institution and make sure we were really doing the right thing.”
They went for a second opinion at UCLA and a third at UCSD. Parag Sanghvi, MD, MSPH, Associate Professor, Director, Division of Clinical Radiation Oncology, Dept. of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences at UCSD and colleagues came up with a plan that let Leigh keep her baby.
“Why don’t we do some surgery up front and see what the pathology shows and then if this is what we expect it to be, we’ll follow her closely and then plan to do any additional treatment that’s needed after she delivered her baby,” suggested Dr. Sanghvi.
“We really didn’t think we would hear anything different, so it was just this ray of light to hear that we could keep the baby and that there was another option,” said Leigh.
Doctor’s at UCLA removed Leigh’s right tumor and twelve lymph nodes. Six months later, Layne arrived.
The next day, doctors found a growth in Leigh’s other tonsil. That meant another surgery and six weeks of radiation. Now, she says life is blessedly normal. She and Dr. Sanghvi say that with cancer treatment changing so fast, a second opinion can be critical.
“So if there’s ever a time where you feel like yes, something’s just not right here, get that second opinion, find somebody who may be a better fit for you. And, I think Leigh’s case really illustrates that,” stated Dr. Sanghvi.
“I can’t tell you how close we were to not having the baby. It just. I just thank God every day for her,” smiled Leigh.
Dr. Sanghvi says Leigh also benefited from being treated at an institution that has experts from many fields. Her care required oncologists, radiologists, maternal-fetal care specialists, and the neonatal intensive care unit.