Baby's determination saved her own life and her mother's

The writer attends the Bethlehem, Pa., congregation of the United Church of God and the Harrisburg, Pa., congregation of the Church of God (Seventh Day). A senior in high school, she is editor in chief of her school newspaper and plans to attend Ithaca (N.Y.) College next year, majoring in corporate communications.

By Jill Hughes

SELINSGROVE, Pa.--Giving birth to a baby is a miracle in itself, but, through one child's determination to be born, she saved her mother's life and her own.

Kathy Charles, a member of the United Church of God congregation in Lewistown, Pa., is known as a happy person surrounded by family members, since her siblings and parents live close by. She and her husband, Tom, have two daughters, Amanda and Katrina, and two sons, Adam and Tim.

Mrs. Charles, at 37, was pregnant with her fifth child in 1996. During her pregnancy her midwife noticed something was not right and encouraged her to go to a hospital for a Cesarean section, even though Mrs. Charles had had her other children at home.

New experience

"It was a real trial of faith because I always did everything with herbs," she said. "It took as much faith to go [to the doctor] as not to go."

When the operation was over, and a baby girl named Heidi had arrived, Mrs. Charles's doctor found a cyst on her ovary. The likelihood of its being cancer was considered low for a woman of her age, but, when the results of the test came back a few days later, the news was not good. She was diagnosed with a malignancy.

As soon as she found out, her pastor at that time, Don Hornsby, was waiting in the hallway to come into the hospital room to anoint her.

"I remember that morning in the prayer that [Mr. Hornsby asked for] a safe, warm home for this little child because I was very sick," Mrs. Charles said.

Cards from all over

Right away the local brethren sent out a prayer request, posting it all over the Internet. Cards came in from all over the country. Around the same time her father was hospitalized because of a stroke.

Mrs. Charles went to Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., for treatment. The cancer had spread to her other ovary. She had a hysterectomy and her lymph nodes removed. There was also a tumor the size of a golf ball connected to her bowels.

"It was all up to God," she said.

Her husband concurred.

"A man might have removed the organs and given the chemotherapy, but God did it all," said Tom Charles, who went to every treatment session with her.

"God guides his [the doctor's] hands," said Mrs. Charles, "We never could figure out how our fifth child came about. We teased that it was miraculous conception."

Mrs. Charles believes she also had a kidney stone in the first months of her pregnancy.

She carried the child totally on the one side of her uterus because the other side was full of fibroid tumors, which are not cancerous.

The baby barely had any room, so she believes a miracle happened that made the baby full term. The pregnancy should have been terminated within the first few months.

"We do believe it was a total blessing all the way around," Mrs. Charles said.

Kathy Charles underwent chemotherapy to insure that the cancer was gone. She received six treatments starting in January 1997 and ended the treatments in May of the same year. She had to skip one treatment because of a low blood count.

Heidi is a healthy 2-year-old, and Heidi's mother has had no sign of cancer since the treatment. She goes in for regular six-month check-ups.

"She'll always remind us of our miracle whenever we look at her," said Mrs. Charles. "If I had had a miscarriage, I never would have found out about the cancer. I never would have gone to a doctor."

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