Egg Harbor Township's Karima McKenney had her first child, baby boy Kamar, on her 25th birthday Jan. 23 at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Mainland Campus, in Galloway Township.
She gets only a short reprieve from hospitals, however. She will have a double mastectomy this week at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.
McKenney was diagnosed with breast cancer right after finding out she was pregnant, and elected to continue the pregnancy.
"The first doctor told me I had to get an abortion. They told me they can't do chemotherapy when I'm pregnant," McKenney said. "But Doctor Elyce Cardonick, at Cooper in Camden, said she's treated pregnant women before."
McKenney had eight chemotherapy treatments at Cooper, she said. She has chosen to have both breasts removed, rather than just the one with the tumor, as a precaution.
It is very unusual for someone her age to develop breast cancer, and McKenney said she tested negative for the BRCA gene, which predisposes women to the disease. Her aunt was diagnosed with it three days after her, at the much more common age of 75, she said.
McKenney is a service writer at Admiral Nissan in Egg Harbor Township and worked until the last week of her pregnancy, she said, adding her co-workers have been a great support to her.
"They did a cancer walk with me and everything in October," McKenney said. They even fixed her car after a friend crashed it.
McKenney's mother, Corynne Collier, of Egg Harbor City, is a great help and will take care of Kamar while McKenney goes for surgery, she said.
Donations to help McKenney with expenses during her recovery may be sent to P.O. Box 99, Egg Harbor City, NJ 08215.
Eagle Theatre awards
Ted Wioncek III, co-artistic director of Hammonton's Eagle Theatre, recently won Best Director of a Play in New Jersey, for Eagle's production of "Lombardi," in BroadwayWorld's 2013 Best Local Theatre awards.
The production also garnered New Jersey awards for best play; best actor in a play to Tim Rinehart; and best actress in a play to Marianne Green.
Best lighting design for a musical in the state went to Chris Miller for his work on Eagle's production of "Hair." BroadwayWorld is an online resource for theater-goers around the world.
The Eagle Theatre's "Footloose" runs until Feb. 8. Remaining performances are 8 p.m. Feb. 5, 6, 7 and 8. Tickets are $30 to $40 at www.TheEagleTheatre.com. For more information, call 609-704-5012.
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