Nefertiti J A Baby After Cancer

Everyone I encountered during all my experiences at NBI were genuine and encouraging. I want everyone to know that serious health issues like I had are not the end of the world. We have a team of awesome doctors here to help us.

A Maplewood woman's medical team at Newark Beth Israel has seen her through it all, from cancer treatment to the birth of a healthy baby.

When Nefertiti Jackson discovered she was pregnant at age 37, she was floored, and ecstatic. The Maplewood resident had been through extensive treatments for a life threatening cancer scare as a child, and then for cancer again as a young adult.

“I was shocked,” she says with a laugh. “We weren’t necessarily trying to have a baby. And after all I’d been through, I didn’t even know I could!” Nefertiti and her longtime partner, Daniel Plaisimond, were excited to start a family. But she knew she needed the best health care available, and she knew exactly where to go.

“Newark Beth Israel Medical Center is like a second home to me,” she says. “I’ve spent many, many days in treatment and recovery there since I was a child. I even have lifelong friends from Newark Beth, patients and staff members who have shown me and my family so much compassion through the years.”

“At Newark Beth, we take care of women from a young age and through older age,” says OB-GYN and surgeon Yvonne Wright-Cadet, MD. “With either simple exams or with serious health issues like Nefertiti’s, I have confidence in telling my patients that I know they’ll get the very best c are here. We have deep relationships with each other, and our specialists are able to blend our skills together to care for mothers and for babies.”

Cancer and Caring

Nefertiti’s first visit to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey (NBI) came at age 7, when she and her mother learned Nefertiti had non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that affects the body’s immune system. During the months-long treatment, staff at NBI cared as much for her mother as they did for her, Nefertiti recalls.

“The support came from nurses and doctors, and also from social workers and nutritionists,” she recalls. “They even brought us groceries, just to take some of those day-to-day tasks off of my mother. I so appreciate that they always extended their care to both of us. ”

During this time, Nefertiti was also thrilled to learn she could go to summer camp, all expenses paid, thanks to The Valerie Fund Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at NBI. Over the course of eight summers, she met people there who remain her friends today. “My mom grew her support system through camp, too, after meeting other parents in similar situations,” she says.

Remaining healthy and clear of cancer through her teens and early 20s, Nefertiti went off to college and then to teaching jobs in local schools. She still checked in with her cancer team at NBI every two years, and she had regular visits at Newark Beth Israel with Dr. Wright-Cadet. “I’ve seen Dr. Wright-Cadet since 2008 for regular exams,” Nefertiti says. “And many of my relatives now go to her. She’s become our family’s doctor of choice.”

Fighting Leukemia

At age 25, when Nefertiti developed familiar symptoms, some that reminded her of her childhood illness, she turned once again to her physicians at NBI for answers.

“They knew me, and they had all my records,” Nefertiti says. “Dr. Wright- Cadet called in specialists to figure out what was wrong.” The answer: leukemia, another type of blood cancer. Nefertiti’s care was overseen by Maya Shah, MD, Section Chief, Leukemia/Lymphoma Service, at NBI.

“They talked with me about my options, and they told me what I needed to know,” Nefertiti says. “It was a tough year, but they saw me through.” Nefertiti recovered from that treatment, with the help of her team at NBI, her family and prayer, she says.

Just a few years later, she learned she would continue to need all that support. In her early 30s, she developed severe fibroids. Dr. Wright-Cadet found a large one very near the uterus.

“It was the size of a grapefruit, and it needed to be removed,” she says. “Dr. Wright-Cadet told me the effect of surgery on my ability to have a child was uncertain, but I trusted her to do everything possible.”

As they had done many times before, she and Dr. Wright-Cadet prayed together in the office.

“Throughout every diagnosis I’ve gotten at NBI, my family, my doctors and I have prayed that God would use these specialists for the healing to happen,” she says. “Dr. Wright-Cadet did a phenomenal job. I had absolutely smooth healing.”

Woman with baby and physician

Joyful News

Three years after fibroid treatment, Nefertiti, Daniel, her physician and her mother learned that the verdict regarding fertility was in: she was pregnant!

Nefertiti had a few more hurdles, however. Dr. Wright-Cadet told her additional fibroids could affect the growing baby. In addition, her age put her and her unborn baby in a high-risk category. Dr. Wright-Cadet brought in the maternal-fetal-medicine specialists at NBI, who focus on the care of mothers and their unborn babies, to make sure they caught any symptoms early.

In the spring, the diligence of her team at NBI paid off. Fibroids never became an issue for the baby, and Nefertiti had a very healthy pregnancy. In April, Nefertiti, she and Daniel welcomed little Kahalia into the world.

It has been over 30 years since Nefertiti began relying on the expertise and compassion of the team at NBI, and she wants to share something with others.

“Everyone I encountered during all my experiences at NBI were genuine and encouraging,” Nefertiti says. “I want everyone to know that serious health issues like I had are not the end of the world. We have a team of awesome doctors here to help us.”