Eve McDavid's Story
"It was a consistent and seamless transition from ob-gyn care to cancer care, with nothing falling through the cracks."
Eve McDavid, 34, and her husband, Matt, began the year 2020 like many of us: full of hope, unaware that the viral outbreak that was taking hold across the world would change history. They were preparing for a joyous arrival: the impending birth of their second child. At 35 weeks of pregnancy, however, Eve received a surprising diagnosis. She learned she had stage 2B cervical cancer. And it was growing very fast. Thanks to the team of experts at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, today Eve is in remission, and their now one-year-old son, Arthur, happily plays with his 3-year-old sister, Ruby Ann, at their home on Long Island.
The news came as a shock to Eve, who had always gone for regular Pap tests to find cervical cancer early and who stayed on top of every aspect of her health care. She had experienced some light bleeding during the pregnancy, but her doctors were aware. After additional follow-up appointments to determine the issue, they believed it was nothing out of the ordinary. Yet during her exam on January 6, 2020, her Weill Cornell Medicine ob-gyn Dr. Andrea Dobrenis, felt an irregularity on Eve's cervix. She performed a Pap test in the office and scheduled an MRI for the next day.
The results showed a seven-centimeter cervical tumor, one that was not present on ultrasound images taken just four months earlier. Eve had a C-section on January 9, with Arthur coming into the world at 5 lbs 3 oz. He was just a few ounces lighter than his older sister, who was also born three weeks early by C-section. "Both of my babies were born in crisis, but they were raring to go!" says Eve.
As she recovered from the C-section, she mourned the loss of the kind of life she had expected and began considering her next steps.
"As an active young mother in my 30s with a successful career, I had a hard time embracing having cancer as part of my life," explains Eve, a strategy executive at Google. "I didn't have the opportunity to breastfeed. The cancer treatments would put me into early menopause, but there was no time to freeze my eggs, so I had to accept that I couldn't have more children. And the treatments could affect my sexual function as well as bladder and bowel function."
She sought additional opinions from doctors at other hospitals about the best course of treatment for her cancer, ultimately choosing the NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center team. She felt heard, seen, and understood by her doctors, including gynecologic oncologist Dr. Eloise Chapman-Davis, and radiation oncologist Dr. Onyinye Balogun.
"I could tell they had fought many battles before for women, and they would be in my corner fighting for me, too," Eve asserts. "It was a consistent and seamless transition from ob-gyn care to cancer care, with nothing falling through the cracks."
Through NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, she was also able to consult with renowned fertility experts and other specialists — all available in one medical center — to make her final decision confidently.
Matt, a clinical psychotherapist, was enormously supportive from the get-go and encouraged his highly independent wife to ask for and accept help. He put his clinical practice on hold to take time off to help Eve and take care of their children.
Two weeks after the C-section, Eve began her treatment. Aggressive cancers require aggressive treatment, and that's what Eve received. Dr. Chapman-Davis prescribed six rounds of weekly cisplatin chemotherapy, while Dr. Balogun oversaw 25 sessions of external beam radiation therapy and five sessions of internal brachytherapy. All treatments were delivered in just eight weeks.
Such a regimen would be challenging for any patient, but for Eve it came with the added feeling of grief over not being there with her new baby in the way she wanted.
"There were parts of young motherhood that were no longer available to me, and this was a loss I felt very deeply with Arthur," she says.
The cancer responded immediately, shrinking precipitously at a rate the doctors had never seen. The treatment was working. By the time she completed brachytherapy toward the end of the eight weeks, there was no visible evidence of the tumor at all. And just in time: When her last treatment was over on March 20, New York was in the throes of the earliest weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the following months, Eve was grateful for the continued paid leave from her job, which enabled her to be with Arthur and make up for some of the time they lost together in the first months of his life.
Scans in the following months continued to be negative. By January 2021, with her post-treatment recovery complete, Eve was declared to be in remission and made plans to return to work in April. She is incredibly grateful for the care she received at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and feels confident in her decision.
"I viewed my doctors as partners in my care, who approached my treatment with the intensity and velocity I wanted while being mindful of my preferences and needs," she concludes. "Every time I was with them, I felt like I was their most important patient."