Andrea Pecor's Personal Profile
The Nightmare, ATG#2, and A Silver Lining (1986)
The Nightmare. At the beginning of February 1986, I was 19 weeks pregnant. At our usual 2-week checkup, Drs. Wasserman and Fruchtman (Dr. Donovan's replacement) dropped a bomb on us. They told us we were "running out of time" and that it was imperative I have an abortion as soon as possible, to avoid what they thought would be a certainty otherwise - losing the baby and probably my life in the next 3-4 months. They hoped that ending the pregnancy would end the relapse of aplastic anemia. The "cut-off" for an abortion was 24 weeks and waiting any longer would precipitate a complicated legal negotiation that could further imperil my life. Though it went against every fiber of my soul, I bent to the pleas of my husband, parents, and in-laws. They wanted the baby, of course, but couldn't bear to lose me. We could try again later, they said, after I was better. I made a decision I will regret for the rest of my life: I had a second-trimester abortion on my 30th birthday. The details of this experience are too dreadful to relate.
ATG#2. After the abortion, my counts continued to go down. I was taking a large dose of Prednisone and the side effects were severe and debilitating. My relationship with Drs. Wasserman and Fruchtman was deteriorating rapidly. I felt disrespected and condescended to. I tapered off the Prednisone (which took months) and they wrote me a prescription for Danazol, another powerful steroid. I flushed it down the toilet. In June, they suggested a second course of ATG might be appropriate. I didn't know this was possible. I consulted with the wonderful doctor who had treated me at Fred Hutchinson and then told Dr. Wasserman I wanted a second opinion. He sent me to Dr. Hugo Castro-Malaspina at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC and I've been treated by him ever since.
I had my second course of ATG in July of 1986. I was admitted on what would have been my due date. Though this was still technically a clinical trial, the protocol was much as it is today, but without Cyclosporine. I had a relatively uneventful four-day course of ATG followed by several months of high-dose Prednisone. Results were similar to the first time around. I hit the low end of normal counts within 6 months but suffered badly with steroid psychosis.
A Silver Lining. The day that Dave and I went to Sloan Kettering to meet with Dr. Castro in June 1986, we stopped at Mount Sinai to pick up my medical records. There was a package on the outside of the office door since the doctors weren't in that day. In the envelope with my records was a pamphlet from what was then called The Aplastic Anemia Foundation. At the time, the Foundation was only 2 years old and struggling to be recognized and start up local chapters. I was overjoyed to find that such support was available and agreed to start a chapter in New York. I have been involved with AA&MDSIF in some capacity ever since and am proud to serve on its Board of Directors.
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