KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A young metro mom will celebrate twice this weekend. Saturday is the first birthday of her first child, and Sunday is National Cancer Survivors Day. This mom has quite a survivor story.
On June 4, 2015, Joedy Verdejo Tanner and her husband, Chris, welcomed their baby girl, Madeline. Two days later, Tanner fainted. She was losing blood, but why? A scope into her stomach provided a shocking answer. All the time the baby was growing in Tanner, a cancerous tumor was growing in her stomach.
"I was really, really shocked. I was like, 'I just had a baby. I just had my baby girl'," Tanner said.
"It's more of a disease of advanced age," said Dr. Addison Tolentino, Tanner's cancer specialist at Saint Luke's Hospital.
He said stomach cancer is very rare in a young adult. Tanner was just 22 with no risk factors. She knew she had to beat cancer for her baby.
"Yea, I want to be there for her. First birthday, second. All. I'm sorry," she said tearfully.
Tanner had chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. Her husband, mother-in-law and others helped with the baby, but there were nights when she was up feeding Madeline while fighting the extreme fatigue from chemo.
"I mean, how does one really do that? I don't know, but she did it and she had a strength for all of that," said Dr. Tolentino.
She had strength to still care for Madeline after surgery to remove the tumor and part of her stomach, followed by more chemo. How did she do it?
"Positive attitude and just have faith in God," Tanner said.
In April, her treatment ended. She is cancer-free.
"Very happy, very glad," she said.
Tanner is glad to be here and to be healthy for Madeline's first birthday on Saturday followed by the annual National Cancer Survivors Day on Sunday. She's looking forward to many more.
The survivors day celebration will be from noon to 3 p.m., on Sunday at the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park at 48th and Roanoke on the west side of the Country Club Plaza.
Tanner said she was inspired by her caregivers at Saint Luke's. She's started training to be come a medical assistant and hopes to eventually become a registered nurse.