Long Island mom battled stage 3 breast cancer while pregnant

GREAT NECK, Long Island -- Jennifer Murphy was only 30 when her life was turned upside down twice: the first time, when she learned she was pregnant, and the second time, when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.

Murphy, who is from Long Island, appeared in Albany last month to advocate for Shannon's Law, a bill that requires insurers to cover mammograms for women between 35 and 39.

Murphy has become a strong advocate for women's health after her own battle with breast cancer and fight to keep her pregnancy.

In 2017, Murphy was on a trip to Italy with her mom when she noticed a lump on her right breast. She didn't think much about it at first, but after the trip, Murphy learned that she was pregnant and mentioned the lump at an ob-gyn appointment.

The doctor said it was from clogged milk ducts.

However, Murphy noticed swelling in her lymph nodes and decided to keep pushing for answers. She requested a sonogram, which led to a biopsy. Days later, she was told she had stage 3 breast cancer.

At first, some doctors suggested that Murphy terminate her pregnancy. But she soon met breast surgeon Dr. Karen Kostroff and medical oncologist Dr. Jane Carleton at Northwell Health who were determined to find a way for Murphy to fight the disease and continue her pregnancy.

Because of the type of cancer she had, Murphy was able to undergo chemotherapy during her pregnancy.

After eight weeks of chemo, Murphy and her husband welcomed a healthy baby girl who they named Marlowe Donna Hope. The name "Hope" was added because of the faith her daughter gave her to keep fighting, even when she had little hope, Murphy said.

Months after her daughter was born, Murphy found out that she was BRCA II positive, meaning that she had a higher risk of her cancer coming back. She decided to have a double mastectomy and was declared cancer-free in September 2018.

Over the past year, Murphy has become a staunch supporter of women's health, believing that women should listen to their bodies and find doctors who will support them in the same way her doctors did.

Shannon's Law was signed into law in August, which is named after Shannon Saturno of Babylon, Long Island, who died of breast cancer when she was 28.
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