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Jessica Henriquez: I Have Cervical Cancer

09/23/2012 at 03:00 PM ET
Courtesy Jessica Henriquez

A chance meeting at a dog park in 2011 led Josh Lucas and Jessica Henriquez on a whirlwind romance, with the two confirming their engagement in January and tying the knot in March as they announced they were expecting their first child.

But behind the newlywed bliss and their baby on the way, the couple were dealing with darker news: Henriquez had cervical cancer.

Originally diagnosed at the age of 25, the writer broke the news to her now-husband within a day of meeting him — he was the first person she told — and leaned on Lucas for support as she began battling the disease.

After two rounds of treatments proved to be unsuccessful, doctors asked her to consider a hysterectomy — at the same time Henriquez discovered she was pregnant.

“I hadn’t thought about children. It wasn’t my dream since I was a little girl to have a family,” Henriquez tells the Huffington Post.

“But when a doctor looks you in the eyes and takes that option off the table, it immediately sets something off in you — this motherhood gene.”

And while she admits “almost every oncologist would disagree with my decision,” Henriquez chose to continue with the surprise pregnancy, despite being told that a hysterectomy could be the cure she needed. “I think that things happen in life that you have to pay attention to,” she explains.

Following trying trimesters with fears of miscarriage and without treatment, Henriquez and Lucas welcomed son Noah Rev in June. And while the new mom has to once again deal with her diagnosis, she is at peace with her choices.

“I never thought I’d be a mom at 27, but I don’t for a second regret anything — no matter what the outcome is,” she says, explaining that while pregnant with her son, there was a possibility the cancer would worsen or spread beyond her cervix.

“If the cancer has progressed because I did nothing for a year to contain it or treat it, I don’t feel any guilt, and I don’t feel like it was a bad decision,” says Henriquez. “Every morning that I wake up with Josh and Noah, I’m even more assured that it was the right decision for me.”

And while doctors have told Henriquez that the cancer did not spread while she was expecting, it has advanced from stage 1A to stage 1B and she will continue treatment this fall. Still, the proud parents are counting their blessings when it comes to their son.

“When we were picking baby names, we specifically picked the name Noah, because it meant ‘calm and restful,'” she explains. “We were like, ‘Wow, that’s what we need.’ We need something in our life that’s just going to be so peaceful, because we haven’t had that since we’ve been together.”

Click here to read the full interview and see more family photos at the Huffington Post.

– Anya Leon

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Showing 82 comments

Kim on

Best of luck to a beautiful family!

Amy on

Great story of faith and family. One thing about Noah, my son is named that and he is nothing about calm and rest. My Noah is a crazy monkey who keeps chaos rampant, but he is a blessing nonetheless. Congrats on the baby boy.

klutzy_girl on

Good luck!

Dee on

Glad things are working out. I went through a similar situation when I was diagnosed when I went for my first check while pregnant with my daughter. Maybe since this happened to a celebrity, people will give a care now about this type of situation.

debianddaisy on

Hope everything works out….it’s hard to deny your child, so I am so glad that baby is okay, now you can fight cancer full time!!!!

thepinkrecipes on

Beautiful story and outcome – prayers to them that she gets healthy and they enjoy their family for a long time to come.

Cinder Lou on

It’s a very selfless thing she did so she could have a child. It’s hard living for months knowing you have cancer growing inside you (been there). Good luck to Jessica and her family.

denise on

Wow so sorry for that great and sad news at once. But now since the birth of your beautiful Noah, I hope you now can seek the treatment needed and then be on the road to recovery. Stay strong and I hope and pray it’s an easy treatment. All the best.

Lynn on

Wishing her the best. I was diagnosed twice w/ the same in my 20’s. I consider my daughter to be a miracle because of all the scar tissue that I had from different treatment options I went through.

Hoping the best for their family. I’m sure it will be hard taking care of a newborn and going through everything else. Hopefully she has other family and extended family to help her through all of this.

Best of wishes to her.

LAURA on

May this family be blessed with health and happiness!

Anna on

I agree with what others have written – this is a tremendous story of faith and family. I will say a prayer for a long and happy family life for them!

rosa on

your selflessness and extreme love for your son is admirable. good luck to you!!

Tiffany on

Best of luck to her/them.

LRL on

Josh Lucas should be tested as he will mostly have HPV as well. What guy would sleep with a woman who has cervical cancer? Shame on men who are the transmitters of this cancer causing disease! Early detection is key ladies! Make sure you have your PAP test yearly.

Lisa on

@LRL: Cervical cancer is most commonly caused by HPV but NOT always. Stop being so judgmental. You do not have all the facts. Educate yourself. And HPV is not always transmitted by sexual contact.

Tee Tee on

What a tremendous story! I’m so glad you chose life for your son, Jessica! I’ll be praying for you as you continue to battle this disorder.

Lizzy76 on

Hey LRL,

Cervical cancer is not transmittal, contagious nor is it something to joke about like in your stupid post. You put the blame and shame on Josh, shame on you for the most stupid, idiotic and heartless comment that I have ever seen.

You clearly did not read her story through its entirety and with comprehension, because if you did you would have seen that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 25, she is now 27.

Having cancer is not like having HIV or some other types of STD’s or even bacterial or fungal infections. Someone who comes in contact with you cannot get cancer. IDIOT!!!

Do us all a favor, educate yourself before opening your mouth and looking like a JACKA$$.

To the Lucas family, the best of luck and congratulations on baby Noah. Wish Jessica the best of luck and health.

Holiday on

My friend is in that exact situation right now. She has cervical cancer and is 12 weeks pregnant and is not going to start treatment until after the baby is born. She is only 23 years old. This gives me hope for her and her baby though!

anonymous on

That must be so scary, I’m glad things seem to be going okay so far and they have a healthy and beautiful baby boy.

Anonymous on

Hang in there girl, you can kick that cancer’s butt. Congrats on the baby, being a mom is wonderful.

Nette on

I went thru the same thing, they would not have found the cancer if I had not had my daughter. We are both cancer free after a hysterectomy.

Grace2 on

Wow. Stay strong mama. My good friend discovered she had lymphoma and that she was pregnant at the same visit. She continued the pregnancy and delivered a healthy baby girl. She then began chemo and radiation and is cancer free 3 1/2 years later.

As women and mothers, we make the best decisions we can and we make them based on what we think is best for us and our families. I offer nothing but well wishes of successful treatment.

Jen on

There’s a chance the baby will have cancer now. She has cervical cancer, the baby was conceived with cancer all around it and it’s known that the baby takes from the mother during the stages of fetus growth.

This fool idiot woman KNEW she had cancer, was too stupid to use protection, so was Josh obviously, so now there will be a good chance when this baby gets older cancer will surface in him!

Shame on this fool woman for being so irresponsible, what, knowing she had cevical cancer she wanted to get knocked up by a wealthy celebrity for a payday?!! Not caring the baby can very well end up with cancer too??

SHAME on this pathetic woman.

Karen on

Like!!!

Maggie on

Uh, Jen? That is not how cancer works. At all. Nice to see you giving her the support she needs during this trying time though …

Also, Jessica does have her own career, plus it sounds like Josh is a stand up guy. Click and read the entire article at the Huffington Post. She wasn’t even going to accept his proposal.

Go crawl back in your hole.

patty on

I had cervical cancer 6yrs ago know how it feels. Went through chemo radiation and internal radiation. God send u 2 angels Josh and Noah to give u all the love and the energy to help u through this hard time. i will be prayin 4 u and your family.

Isabel on

Jen, you’re a fool.

Pam Pioro on

What a difficult decision you had to make. I worked with an oncology center (Radiation Dr) & know what you are going through. Every day you look at your Noah & your husband please thank God for all you have been blessed with. Even though I am not a seriously religious person I know that God has had a hand in your blessings. Believe that God will and faith will carry you through the trials you are now facing!!

Debbie on

LRL and Jen,

You are uninformed idiots!. Go back under your rocks and stay there.

Good luck & prayers to Jessica, Josh & your beautiful little boy, Noah.

Kell on

Jen you should really have a clue before you go on a rant.

nicole on

Actually, Lizzy76, LRL is absolutely correct in saying that HPV, which is warts, is most often the cause of cervical cancer, and yes, HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. A very high rate of women who get warts (HPV) get cervical cancer.

With that said, it is crazy to assume that is the cause of her cancer. AND, even if it is, it is certainly no one else’s business. Let’s just hope that she beats the cancer and goes on to live a long life with her husband and son.

Amanda on

Yes Jen, I am sure Noah would rather not exist at all than to have the slight increased chance of cancer during his lifetime.

Maggie on

Nicole, the HPV strains that cause warts (low-risk) are different than the strains that cause cervical cancer (high-risk). Although you can be infected with multiple strains, usually if you have warts you don’t have cancer and vice-versa.

Shelley on

Amazing story. I hope all goes well with her and her family, and that she is completely healed from her cancer.

marie on

My Noah is quite active as well.

Good luck to all of them!

Rachel on

Wow – there are a couple of incredibly hateful and uneducated individuals on this board. LRL – seriously? Even if her cancer was caused by HPV it wasn’t from Josh who met her in 2011 AFTER her diagnosis and even if she has HPV do you realize how many humans have this virus?

The vaccine didn’t come out until several years back and then was only available to young teens who weren’t sexually active. YOU could have HPV and so could your partner. MANY adults have HPV and never show any symptoms. In fact, studies show that approximately 50% of sexually active males have HPV and that approximately 80% of sexually active females will end up contracting the virus. So don’t be so quick to judge.

Jen – the baby can NOT contract cancer from its mother. The baby was not “surrounded by cancer” the baby was inside his mother’s uterus NOT her cervix.

I can only offer my prayers and hope for this new family. I cannot imagine going through what Jessica is going through as a new mother and wife. I was diagnosed with melanoma in March of 2011 and it was a terrifying experience even though it was caught early.

Kristen on

Ladies, think of yourselves and your families. Get a PAP smear yearly!

Cindy on

We do need to make all female cancers known. I am always being asked to give to breast cancer awareness. I had stage 2b cervical cancer and was told if I missed my annual pap smear there would have been no treatment to save me if it were 1 year later. Instead, I went through chemo and radiation and feel good other than some minor issues. I feel we need to acknowledge all female cancers and have fundraisers for all cancers.

diane on

These commentators can’t possibly be that stupid.

Sara on

1. Even though her cervical cancer COULD have been caused by something other than HPV, it is most likely HPV.

2. HPV is very common, not all strains are sexually transmitted (wart on your finger = HPV, wart on your vulva = HPV, precancerous lesion/cancer in your cervix = HPV).

3. There is no way to cure HPV, you just need to get regular (every 3 years, or annually ONLY if you’ve had an abnormal pap) to find precancerous or cancerous lesions that are caused by HPV.

4. The baby does not have cancer. Jesus christ.

girlmeetsgeek on

This comment is for JEN:

This woman is not stupid nor ignorant. And cancer? Is NOT contagious. I’ve had 3 bouts with Cervical Cancer and had a beautiful baby boy in July (after finding out I was precancerous in some areas and eventually diagnosed with 1a.) I’ve had multiple LEEPS, Cryotherapy, biopsies and other procedures to keep my fertility. I desperately wanted another child and went through tremendous hoops to have our Daniel. (Including invasive biopsies each trimester.)

Cervical cancer CANNOT pass to your child in the womb. It grows on cervical tissue and unless margins are unclear, (the cancer has spread outside of the cervical area,) there is NO harm to the fetus. (Remember, the baby is cloaked in a very protective amniotic sac.) http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerBasics/is-cancer-contagious

Before you start judging, mouthing off and otherwise looking like the truly ignorant one, do some research. The reason Cervical Cancer is SO rampant is because of the ignorance of the disease. Most, (not all,) cervical cancer is caused by HPV. HPV is a VERY common STD and can be passed by SKIN-TO-SKIN contact, (not just sexual.) It’s estimated by the CDC that over 80% of humans have HPV and many skin infections are HPV-related.

Your best defense from cervical cancer is yearly pap smears. If you have a history of troublesome pap smears, ask for an HPV test and find out your risk. Please educate yourself.

Here’s a great article about HPV and why we need to do MORE: http://www.girlmeetsgeek.com/2012/06/25/20-million-mind-blowing-statistics-about-hpv-and-cancer/

Jon on

My grandmother faced the same choice with the same cancer. She choose to give birth to my mom, instead of ending the pregnancy (in 1961!), and died of her cancer 10 months after my mom’s birth at 32. They both died young, so I’m so glad that this story, with the cancer in such an early stage, will have a happy ending.

jamelle on

WOW! Glad that things have not gotten extremely worse. My sister in law had that decision. It is a hard one to make and not always has such a great outcome. I am so glad things are working out and will continue to hope for the best.

Anonymous on

Maggie- Exactly! Apparently Jen must not have read the article at all, because Jessica also states that she hadn’t even thought about children and makes it clear that she and Josh had not been trying to get pregnant (and for the record, no method of birth control except for abstinence is 100 percent effective, so she and Josh very well could have been using protection!). Doesn’t sound like someone who got pregnant on purpose for a “payday” to me!

Anyway, I commend her for sharing her story, and I hope she’ll be able to beat the cancer. I also hope she realizes that she doesn’t have to keep her uterus to have more kids! :)

Anonymous on

Okay, I just looked at the full article on Huffington Post, and Noah must be one very advanced baby, as there is a picture of him sitting, all on his own, on his father’s lap! I didn’t think it was possible for a three month old to do that!

missy on

All the best to you and your two guys, such a sweet story of LOVE!

Anonymous on

Oh, and after seeing all the photos of Noah, I have to disagree with Josh’s recent comments about him being unphotogenic. He’s adorable!

Anonymous on

what a drama! hopes all be fine Jess!

Pam on

I too have cervical cancer. :( I have just begun treatments. I hope to someday have a baby, so this is hope that it can happen. Thank you for sharing your story! Noah is beautiful, congratulations! Wishing you and your family the best!

Pam on

Girl meets geek – Thank you! I was just diagnosed with cervical cancer and have just started treatment. I hope to someday have children. Hearing that you were able to after 3 bouts with it and multiple leeps and etc. gives me hope. And thank you for setting the record straight, you are right about 80% of humans having it. There needs to be more attention brought to HPV and cervical cancer.

Pam on

Jen, wow you are an absolute idiot!

Pam on

Holiday, that must be so scary! I have cervical cancer and have just begun treatments but I’m not pregnant so I can only imagine how scary that would be. It’s also really scary not knowing if I’ll ever be able to have kids so in that way she’s lucky. I hope everything goes as well as it can for her. There is hope.

Pam on

LRL, wow you are stupid or just misinformed. Men don’t have or get any symptoms. They don’t even know they have it, there’s no way to test for it in men. I have cervical cancer and my husband has no trouble sleeping with me, it’s not AIDS! Go educate yourself before you speak about HPV (not HIV) or cervical cancer.

Pam on

Lynn, I too am hoping to be able to conceive after all the scar tissue from the leeps and etc. I am so glad that it worked out for you and that you are ok now. That is very inspiring. Thank you.

Kelly on

My mother passed away of Stage 4 cervical cancer at the end of April 2012. These comments are hurtful. Her stage is very very treatable, and the survivical rate is EXTREMELY high. And no, not every case of Cervical cancer is via HPV, my mother didn`t have HPV but developed cervical cancer. Please leave you ignorance at bay when talking about a person`s life.. cancer is serious stuff.

M on

New research suggests that HPV is very likely ALWAYS caused by HPV, and HPV is indeed sexually transmitted (that includes skin-to-skin contact without penetration). So yes, it is safe to assume to HPV caused her cancer and that her HPV is contagious (to Josh).

That being said, she made a tough and admirable choice. Hopefully the doctors will eradicate her cancer quickly and easily.

deb on

Her choice was her business, but i hope she gave deep consideration to the fact that she has put her child at blatant risk of growing up motherless. The want to be a mother and the happiness of the child are different issues.

Susan Albert on

Congrats on the birth of your baby. Hoping and praying that things work out for you health wise.

Pam on

Kelly, I am so sorry about your mother but having HPV doesn’t make you a horrible person. Everybody is making it sound like that. You all could have it, 80% of the human population does and so do I and it’s very hard to hear people judging people so harshly because of it. I never had unprotected sex with anyone and I got it, skin to skin contact! Until just recently in the last few years has HPV really become prevelant, no one knew what is was before. So please also have some respect for the living, even if we have HPV. We are not disgusting dirty people.

More awareness needs to be brought to this infection. Moms, get your daughter’s vaccinated with Gardasil before they are sexually active, hopefully it will prevent them from getting it. We need to find a cure, this is killing many beautiful women, and mothers :( 80% of the human population has HPV, a lot of you probably have it and don’t know, so get tested for it and if you have it, take the preventative steps to not get cervical cancer. I have cervical cancer so I am speaking from the heart because I truly care and don’t want other women to go through it.

Rachel on

in our prayers!!!!

Pam on

By the way, I took all the preventative steps to try to make sure that my HPV didn’t turn into cervical cancer. Any time my Dr. suggested a leep or etc, I immediately did it and have lived a healthy lifestyle. I still got cervical cancer, HPV runs rampant and does not respond to treatment very easily. So it is very important to do every single thing your Dr. says. I did exactly that and still got it, but you are dramatically lowering your chances of getting cervical cancer.

Pam on

Deb, how dare you judge her for that? You don’t know what it’s like to be told you have cervical cancer and you might not ever be able to have kids. It is completely terrifying to have that right ripped away from you. I have cervical cancer and I hope to someday have a child, it could always reoccur, should I not live my life while I can and get to enjoy motherhood like everyone else? No! I am going to have that child if I can, they will be happy I chose to give them life and if I die will have a loving father and family to depend on. I am so happy that Jessica chose life for her child, even though it meant she could worsen her cancer. If I was in her position, I would have chosen my child’s life over mine, she also had stage 1a, so she knew it was very likely she’d be ok after.

Kandyce on

Touching story – living example of the motherhood instinct – pray for her health so she can be there for baby Noah.

Hea on

I wish them all the best and a full recovery for her.

Taraakapinky on

Nicole, HPV is NOT just warts. That’s a common misconception. HPV has quite a few strands of disease and only one of them is warts. A lot of the strands of it have no obvious symptoms. It is sexually transmitted and its the most commonly occurring STD in America. It’s also one of the biggest causes of cervical cancer but is not the only cause of it.

Em13 on

Wow. That’s such a courageous thing to do. So inspiring. Congrats! I wish her a full recovery from cancer.

cathy on

what a sad story.

meghan on

Jen, you are not describing how cancer works. You are describing cooties.

meghan on

Deb, there are situations in life that we will never know how we will handle until we are face with them. Don’t judge Jessica for the choice she made unless you’ve been there.

Steph on

There are cases of infants being diagnosed with cancer soon after birth, in cases where the mother has cancer. There is a case right now in the US, where the infant is not being covered by the pathetic medical/insurance system because the mother had cancer while pregnant, is now dying, and the baby had a “pre-existing condition”! I wish them the best of luck. Having a new baby is emotional enough without all of this stress.

Rachel on

Steph — Do a little more research. Yes there have been cases of mother-to-fetus transmission of cancer but there have ONLY been around a dozen cases of since they began studying this rare phenomenon in the 1800’s and nearly all of those were leukemia or melanoma (the child currently in the US was melanoma).

If cancer cells get to the fetus (which likely happens way more often than those dozen times) their healthy body should attack the foreign cells and kill them off. They haven’t figured out exactly why those cases occured, but they believe it lies in genetics and that for some RARE reason (very, extremely rare reason) the fetus’ body didn’t recognize the cells as foreign.

All of us at any given time in our lives have cancer cells that our bodies are attacking and killing… so in that sense, should none of use ever have children for fear that that one in a billion rogue cell will make its way to our fetus?

Mei on

Prayers for this couple with a new baby born of love. God be with them.

Misty on

Wow – what a scary time, but sounds like they are at peace with their decision, and I hope they cherish their little boy and she beats the cancer.

Jenn on

To me the most beautiful part of this story is the fact that she told him within a day of meeting him that she had cancer, and he stuck around. Not too many guys would do the same. Congratulations on the marriage and baby and best wishes for the future.

sam on

OMG, you women on here are ridiculous. NOT ALL HPV IS WARTS. There is a type that can cause warts, and the type that can cause cancer. I do not have warts, and was diagnosed with it when I was pregnant. My kid doesn’t have cancer, or warts. Go back to school!!

LRL on

By the way, I never said Josh gave her HPV. Men are the transmitters of the virus because there is no test for HPV, so they don’t know they have it. This woman was irresponsible. She knew she had cervical cancer and had unprotected sex! There is a great possibility that Josh has HPV and it might turn into cancer so it is important for him to go to the Dr. to make sure it doesn’t!

Each year, about 12,000 women get cervical cancer in the U.S. Almost all of these cancers are HPV-associated. HPV is passed through genital contact, most often during vaginal and anal sex. Very rarely, a pregnant woman with genital HPV can pass HPV to her baby during delivery.

Cervical cancer usually does not have symptoms until it is quite advanced. For this reason, it is important for women to get regular screening for cervical cancer. Screening tests can find early signs of disease so that problems can be treated early, before they ever turn into cancer.
http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm#cause

To the people who are hating, did you get your Pap this year? If not Fu*k off! Enough research for you?!

meghan on

LRL, stop acting like you have any clue what you are talking about.

Kristy on

My heart breaks for her so much. She’s very lucky to have Josh as a Husband and Best Friend. I’m keeping all them in my thoughts and prayers. Love to all. Keep your head up. xoxo

Rachel on

LRL — no amount of research in the world could excuse your ‘holier than thou’ attitude on this subject. You are certainly free to have your opinion on the matter, but voicing it on this site about a specific individual who has just revealed her own struggle with cancer is cruel and disgusting. And yes, I’ve had my pap smear this year (and every other year since I turned 18). As likely most of the other women here have. Doing everything right in the world sometimes can’t keep you from getting cancer.

Jenny Lang on

I am 33 weeks pregnant with my third child and it was also discovered during my pregnancy that I had cervical cancer. I will deliver my son a week from today and have a complete radical hysterectomy. I hope that her treatment leaves them able to have more children. Thankfully for me, I had already decided this would be my last. Prayers to her and Josh for a complete recovery!

Anonymous on

Jessica is one of my friends and I usually don’t read this stuff because of some of the comments you will see, and thankfully she doesn’t either. But I nearly cried when I read some of the awful thing people wrote on here, you should be ashamed. She is a wonderful woman, she love Noah and Josh more then anything in her life. Please think before you write these thing who might be reading it, she is just an average mom and human being like all of us.

P.S. thanks to all who poured out hope and love towards the family.

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