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Harlem Mom Beats Breast Cancer, Has Miracle Baby and Wins $10K Nursery Makeover

Sharon Nelson defies conception odds then sweepstakes odds. Read her inspiring story and winning nursery design.


Harlem Mom Beats Breast Cancer, Has Miracle Baby, Wins $10,000 Nursery Makeover

“I hope my story inspires other women with breast cancer. Never say never. Only the big man knows what’s up.” –Sharon Nelson

 We love black mothers with phenomenal personal stories. So when I heard about Sharon Nelson, I could not help but dig in. In 2002, the West Indian born, Harlemite and public relations professional was diagnosed with Her2/nue, the rare and aggressive strand of breast cancer. After a mastectomy, chemotherapy and several surgeries, she was cancer free but every doctor told her she was sterile and that having children was just not a possibility for her.

But someone else had a greater plan. In 2008, after six years of living cancer free, she went to her oncologist to tell her that she was going through early menopause. Boy, was she wrong! “The doctor gave me a pregnancy test just in case and she delightfully told me I was pregnant! I just couldn’t process it,” Sharon says. “Prior to my cancer I also had a fibroid problem—about 25 of them and I had a myomectomy in 2001. Just the thought of my uterus conceiving given all this was an infinitesimally small chance.” Sharon says only one of her many doctors had ever heard of such a pregnancy and that was 25 years ago!

That small chance turned into a great joy. “I had a fabulous pregnancy, making sure not to gain too much weight because of my previous surgeries any stretching could be detrimental to my recovery,” she says. Because of her high risk pregnancy, she needed a maternal fetal specialist. The one who had been with her during most of her pregnancy belatedly realized he had scheduled vacation around her due date. Needless to say, Nelson was not a happy camper. She did not want to trust her miracle baby in the hands of a back-up. She fired that old doctor but they gave her baby two steroid shots to speed up the development of his lungs in preparation for an early delivery.  By the next day, she realized that the baby was not moving. Her new team closely monitored her and agreed that it was time to take the baby.

“It was a very dramatic delivery. I lost two liters of blood, they lost blood pressure readings. They wanted to give me a blood transfusion but I refused it because working in the health care industry I know that it is not always safe,” Sharon says. In the end, her baby was just fine. “And he’s been great ever since. I don’t know what would have happened if I wasn’t alert enough to notice that he wasn’t moving.”

But then the blessings kept coming. Because of her breast cancer and mastectomy, Sharon was unable to breastfeed and was using Similac formula. One evening in a rare moment of downtime to surf the Internet, she stumbled upon the Similac Custom Nursery Design Contest asking parents how $10,000 and a professional design consultation would help them welcome home their “new addition. Out of over 20,000 entrants, Sharon was one of four first-prize winners. She won $10,000 and a designer to help create the dream room for her son.   Design Inspiration “My family are descendents of Admiral Nelson, so I wanted to have a nautical theme.  And I wanted something he could grow into,” Sharon says. The results speak for themselves. Her local designer, Peggy Berk of Area Aesthetics, was absolutely fantastic, Sharon says.

Divine Intervention “I went through such a hard and difficult part of my life. Chemo is no joke. It is one of the worst things a human can experience. So to have a baby at the end of it all is from God. I hope my story will inspire others who had breast cancer and may want to have children.  Never say never.  Only the big man knows what’s up.”


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