Raising Awareness- Choriocarcinoma

{Laguna Beach, CA } Choriocarcinoma cancer survivors link arms in support with one another | Photo by Bluejay Photo

I had an amazing opportunity to be a part of a reunion... you could say it was a "family" reunion. These ladies are connected by a very special bond. Each one of them are survivors of a rare cancer that many are unaware of, Choriocarcinoma. Choriocarcinoma is a cancer that occurs in the placenta onset by any pregnancy and carries the same symptoms. When a new mother arrives at her ultrasound appointment, she may be shocked to learn she has what is known as a molar pregnancy where a cluster of pre-cancerous cells have formed, sometimes instead of a baby. In most devastating cases, the baby is lost.

Cancer survivor, mother of four, and homeschooling mom, Cindy Lupica, leads a support group of over 1500 ladies from all over the world! She planned a weekend getaway for all who could attend at an ocean-front hotel in Laguna Beach, CA. She brought gifts for each of the women; a journal for their thoughts and prayers, a necklace, and purple ribbon & flag to support their efforts and raise awareness. Women from Utah, Georgia, Oregon, and Australia flew out to share this time of grieving, support, and celebrate life with each other.

One of the women, diagnosed in the 80’s suffered eight miscarriages before she had to come to the reality that she would not be able to have children at all. She said she wasn’t sure how she would feel coming to this event and confessed she spent the night before crying. In the middle of lunch she had to step away and take a moment to process her emotions. When lunch was over she was so overwhelmed she didn’t want to return. Understanding her flood of emotions the other women reached out to her with patience and compassion encouraging her to rejoin the group for the flower ceremony at the beach. She did. Cindy Lupica added, "Some of these women have been holding onto these emotions for years. They've never talked about it before". Survivors' hands (above)stretched out in support. Survivor, Michelle Goffe wears a band that reads "SURVIVOR"

For another woman the month of May marked the one year anniversary of her first pregnancy and diagnosis of Choriocarcinoma. She shed tears of hope saying her doctor gave her the “ok” to start trying again to have a child. Her mother flew in with her and spent the day in support of her daughter expressing gratitude for all that the group of ladies have done to lift her spirits and be a support, “We have nothing like this back at home” she shared “[my daughter] really needed this. I’m glad she got to come”.

One woman was joined by her two friends. “My friends are my family!”, she proclaimed over and over again. They’ve known each other for over a decade. “She amazes me”, one friend said, “Even before she was diagnosed she has just always been strong”. This Oregon native was pregnant with her second child when she was diagnosed placental site trophoblastic tumor, another form of gestational trophoblastic disease. She lost the pregnancy. She desired to have another child but after several procedures and threats to her overall health she made the decision to have a hysterectomy. “I just wanted to be healthy. I wanted to live. It wasn’t worth it to keep going back to the doctor. So, I said just take it”. Tattooed across her shoulder she had the words “with pain comes strength”. She proudly posed for a picture. The tattoo to commemorates her journey.

At the beach the women gathered for a flower ceremony. They never stated exactly what the flowers represent, but they didn’t have to. As they stood in a circle holding the bright red carnations they recalled their experiences and held each other for comfort. One woman from Australia bubbly in personality and free in spirits brought laughter and comfort. She paused to share the love and support of her mother who recently passed. Tears rolled down her face as she shared the support her mother had been to her all her life. On her death bed her mother’s love and support surpassed her last breath. She made her daughter promise to take this trip to America and left her an inheritance to make it happen in order to continue to spread awareness of Choriocarcinoma.

It is impossible to hear these women’s stories and not be touched and inspired by their lives. Their deepest desire is to raise awareness. “Women are unaware of it. They just don’t know. If they would have given me an ultrasound earlier on in my pregnancy they could have caught this”, one of the women pleaded. For now they focus their efforts on supporting the women in their group and getting the word out in the world through social media, events like this one and local news articles.

Survivors and supports (above) pass their journals

in a circle to write wordsof encouragement to one

another | Photo by Bluejay.

There have been many tears shed over the years for each of these women for all they have had to overcome. But today they laugh, they smile, they celebrate the life they are so grateful to have and the friends and family that surround them with love and support.

(From the left) Kathleen Schoendienst (California), Elaine Hopper (Georgia), and Carol Beaumont (Australia). Some of these ladies helped pioneer research for Choriocarcinoma by volunteering for exploratory treatment.

Having had the opportunity to witness their support for each other and hear their stories I know they encourage you, who may be struggling to keep on fighting! Please join them in their efforts to raise awareness and support women all over the world facing Choriocarcinoma. Visit these links for resources, information, and 24/7 support.

Choriocarcinoma & Molar Pregnancy Awareness


Choriocarcinoma & Molar Pregnancy Awareness (facebook)


AFTER CHEMO from Choriocarcinoma/Molar/ALL GTD


Choriocarcinoma Warrior Angels - Gone but NOT forgotten


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