'I Thought, What Is Going To Happen To My Baby?': Marisa Was 24 Weeks Pregnant When She Found Out She Had Cancer
After a stress-free pregnancy with her daughter just a couple of years before, Marisa wasn't quite sure why she was feeling so sick the second time around.
"When I started getting morning sickness, I thought, 'Oh it must be a boy,'" she told 10 daily. "Then I was feeling really tired but I had a toddler and was working and running a house so I thought it was normal to be tired," she added.
Marisa then starting feeling pain in her chest but put it down to her baby pressing on her internal organs, again telling herself that the symptoms had to be pregnancy-related.
It wasn't until an itchy, red rash appeared, and remained, on her hip and lumps appeared on her neck that doctors sent her for a biopsy and discovered she had two large tumours on her chest.
At 24 weeks pregnant, Marisa was told she had Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a diagnosis that sent her into a state of shock.
"I couldn’t believe it, I was very much in shock," she told 10 daily.
"I just thought, 'Okay, what is going to happen to my baby now?' That was my first fear."
Marisa, 34 and her partner Daniel 35, are just one of the couples sharing their pregnancy journey in front of the cameras for 'One Born Every Minute Australia' which was filmed at the birthing unit at Sydney's Westmead Hospital earlier this year.
"The idea of showing all the mums, and families in general, that we all have a history and it’s okay to sometimes feel really bad and have all these complications...." Marisa told 10 daily of her decision to allow her birth to be filmed.
"We are stronger than we think and we can do marvellous things if we put our minds to it," she added.
Marisa summoned her own inner strength to get through two rounds of chemotherapy while still pregnant with her son, Alejandro. A process that involved steroid injections and multiple rounds of medication to ensure her unborn child would continue growing stronger during the pregnancy.
"I said, 'Do whatever you need to do to make this baby healthy,'" Marisa told 10 daily.
The chemo meant that she found it difficult to eat as much as usual, even though she knew she needed to consume more food for Alejandro.
"After chemotherapy, I couldn’t really have anything except water," she said. "I had to push myself to eat, even though my body really didn’t want to, it wasn’t fun."
Marisa's strength shines through on the series with the Peruvian-born mother shown dancing around her hospital room with her partner, joking about needing a martini.
"I think coming from a Latin American country, having all this hot blood,” she laughed.
"I love music, music makes me really happy. I told myself, I want to have a nice environment because I had been so worried and anxious and didn’t know the outcome until that day," she said.
The emotional birth took place with Marisa knowing she'd soon have to return for another round of chemotherapy with her doctor telling her to push as slowly as possible to avoid tearing and possible infection.
The couple's healthy son was delivered by Daniel, who immediately placed Alejandro on his mother's chest.
"Hello, little boy," he said as the infant took his first breaths and Marisa teared up holding her baby close.
With help from the Cancer Council, Marisa was given some funds to buy breastmilk from a bank, knowing that she'd be unable to nurse Alejandro.
"Even now, it has been 11 weeks since Alejandro was born, I still think about how everything happened so quickly," Marisa told 10 daily.
Marisa returned for her third round of chemo just eight days after Alejandro was born and is continuing treatment at the moment.
The mother of two told us she was looking forward to watching the emotional journey back on 'One Born Every Minute' with her family, friends, some popcorn and some tissues.
"We're going to laugh, we're going to cry and we're going to enjoy this moment of... life," she said.