After several missed appearances on her local news station, a Las Vegas anchor is sharing her rare diagnosis that led her from being an expectant mother to a cancer patient in just a matter of weeks.
KSNV reporter Michelle Velez told her loyal viewers of her choriocarcinoma diagnosis on social media last week.
“I was only doing that to inform everybody what was going on, and that includes my coworkers,” Velez told InsideEdition.com. “For the months prior to this, I had to keep missing work. I was in and out. I would try to go to work but I felt really sick.”
The mother of two explained it all started in August, when her pregnancy test came back positive.
“I had a moment that night with my husband. We were really excited. This would have been our third baby,” she explained.
When Velez and her husband went to their first ultrasound, they were told that there was nothing in her gestational sac.
“That was really devastating for us,” Velez said. “We were sad we lost the baby. We have never had a miscarriage before.”
Her doctors originally advised her to allow her body time to miscarry naturally. But they later discovered she was actually suffering from a molar pregnancy.
“Instead of miscarrying naturally, a molar pregnancy continues to grow,” Velez explained. “The placenta continues to grow as if there is a baby inside of the body and it starts to reproduce tissue that can become very invasive.”
While most molar pregnancies are benign, that was not the case for Velez.
She was diagnosed with choriocarcinoma, a fast-growing cancer that spread to her lungs, liver, spleen and uterus in a matter of a few weeks.
The following days were extremely difficult, Velez explained. She was still experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding as a result of the lost pregnancy, which nearly delayed her aggressive chemotherapy plan. She was hospitalized twice and required multiple blood transfusions
“My co-anchor, Krystal Allan, the one who I sit on the desk with every day, actually was the one taking me to my appointments,” Velez said. “She was with me when I got diagnosed. She stayed in the hospital with me both stays. She was there through my darkest hours.”
Miscarriage is common among women. About one in four recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the American Pregnancy Association, which considers molar pregnancy a type of miscarriage. But choriocarcinoma is extremely rare, only affecting up to seven of every 100,000 pregnancies in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.
While Velez fights for her health against a rare disease, she said she also struggles with what her pregnancy loss means for her as a mother, something many women who experience miscarriages have become open about in recent years.
“I felt that sense of shame a little bit. I didn’t want people to know it had happened but it’s such a personal thing, like why did my body fail this baby?” Velez said. “I wish we could be more open about this. One in four women has a miscarriage. Think about that number – it is so common.”
Many celebrities have revealed that they experienced miscarriage as well. Hilaria Baldwin told her social media followers that she wanted to raise awareness about that part of life to help "normalize miscarriage and remove the stigma from it," adding that there should be "no shame or embarrassment" around it. And former gymnast Shawn Johnson opened up with her husband in a YouTube video about the devastating experience of losing a pregnancy.
Now, as Velez moves forward, she said she’s focusing on getting better.
“I have two beautiful children. I have a boy, I have a girl, and I want to be there for them,” Velez said. “That’s our focus right now, getting better, getting this behind us and moving on as a family.”