PEMBROKE PINES (CBSMiami) — Cake, balloons, and a room filled with friends and family. These are the trimmings of a typical birthday party, but on this particular Friday, it wasn’t the guest of honor’s birthday. Her life, however, was being celebrated.
“Today is my last treatment. It’s been 322 days since I was diagnosed,” said Julianna Guevara.
Guevara went in for her final round of chemotherapy at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines in February. The treatment marked the end of a journey that started with what she thought was just the flu almost a year ago.
“The doctor came in and said, ‘I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that you have leukemia.’ That just floored us all. We didn’t expect that at all. I didn’t know it was possible to have cancer and be pregnant.”
Julianna was 23 weeks pregnant at the time of her diagnosis.
“We started treatment right away,” she said. “They assured me if I didn’t, I could lose my life and in turn my daughter’s life, and she was my goal. I wanted a healthy baby.”
And that baby is healthy.
Alianna Love was there as her mom underwent her final round of chemo.
“She came at just the right time to save my life,” she said. “If I had gotten pregnant 4 years earlier when I started, I could have gone undiagnosed.”
It took Julianna and her husband Allan several years to get pregnant with their daughter, and they documented their struggle on a blog.
They shared their personal and private pain with the world in hopes of helping others find hope and faith.
“Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. That’s a whole lot of people. But it’s not talked about,” Julianna said. “We could help others and give others hope. We knew that we had the faith and we knew how to find that peace and get that comfort going through that.”
She also posted about her cancer fight and admits losing her hair was hard to handle.
“As vain as it may seem, that was something I wanted to hold on to. Also, because I was pregnant, I wanted maternity pictures with the beautiful long hair, and so that was something that I had to grieve,” she said.
Short hair or long, Julianna’s beauty shines from within. Even her doctor can see it.
“From the first moment I met her, all the nurses on the floor felt the same way. There’s just something about her that is so special,” said oncologist Dr. Yehuda Deutsch.
“I think what makes me a survivor is perseverance. I don’t feel like a superhero or anything like that. I think a better word for myself is an overcomer. We’ve overcome all this, but it’s been together,” she said. “It’s not just me as a survivor, we’ve overcome these things together.”
Julianna has participated in the “Light the Night” walk benefitting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and plans to do it again this year.
She says she’s ready to experience motherhood without the frequent hospital visits and continue her work as a licensed mental health counselor, where she can continue to help others.
CLICK HERE to view her blog.