RYE BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A mother’s devastating news about a breast cancer diagnosis mid-pregnancy turned into a story of survival, and today she says the baby made all the difference.
Carly Klareich, a high school guidance counselor in the Bronx, was 22 weeks pregnant when she felt a lump that turned out to be breast cancer, turnig the happiest time in her life into the most terrifying, reports CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock.
Jack is 2-years-old now, with a smile to melt any heart.
“I just love this little boy,” says Carly. “That was my miracle that basically saved my life.”
She was a month away from giving birth to her son when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“My first thought was ‘oh my goodness, my son is going to grow up without me.’”
At 24 weeks, she had a lumpectomy, but didn’t take any pain medication and waited on chemotherapy.
“He was the number one priority so no matter what I wanted to make sure that he was safe,” she said.
Carly was induced three weeks early to fast track treatment.
“I was just so happy,” she said. “He was beautiful, I got to hold, then I broke down and cried.”
She says she felt bliss but for a moment, then reality set in for her and her husband Adam.
“Without a doubt it was one of the best days ever, swear to God,” she said. “i went home and i cried.”
The family’s future was uncertain.
Carly started chemo eight days after giving birth, then contracted meningitis about three months into treatment. She had a double mastectomy.
“I was dealing with a newborn at the same time,” she said. “I love my husband to death, but to have jack home made it all worth it.”
She says despite everything she was going through, she laughed, danced and sang with her little man.
Just days before Jack’s 5-month milestone, doctors declared Carly cancer free.
“Hands down one of the best moments of my entire life,” she said.
They celebrated their survival, wearing party hats and all.
“I’m more in love with my wife now a thousand percent, without a doubt,” said father Adam. “You just see this complete other side of someone, a side I came to admire and love so much.”
Even after the cancer-free call, Carly had to endure radiation. She lost her hair, but never her fierce determination to beat cancer. The end of radiation coincided with her first Mother’s Day.
“The best, best day of my life, because I was done,” Carly said. “I could be ‘normal’ again.”
Carly said Komen Greater NYC heard her story and reached out offering to help.
“They really provide so much support, life funding research, resources to people who aren’t as fortunate as I am,” she said.
Team Jack Attack has raised nearly $40,000 for Komen Greater NYC, and last year Carly was honored as survivor of the year.
She’s been racing for the cure since her diagnosis, and by her side each step of the way, her Team Jack Attack and mascot, little Jack himself.