An entire community that stretches far beyond Central and Northern New York mourns the loss of Jenna Hinman. The Fort Drum woman and recent mother of twin girls died Monday, but she left behind a legacy that won't soon be forgotten. As Katie Gibas reports, her story touched people around the globe, and gave a face to those battling a rare form of cancer.
Since March 3 when she had an emergency C-Section to deliver her twin babies Azlynn and Kinleigh 10 weeks early, Jenna Hinman's story has touched thousands around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people have been following Hinman's progress on the Prayers for Jenna Facebook page.
"How hard this must be for him and her family and for those poor babies. It's very hard," said Jennifer Gilbreath, the founder of MyMolarPregnancy.com.
Jennifer Gilbreath is from Florida and has been following Hinman's story since she heard about it two months ago. Gilbreath was diagnosed with a similar class of pregnancy cancer in 2001 and formed a support group for those battling the disease.
"Over the last couple of weeks since she's been in her coma, I've seen people talking about it and saying, 'I've called my doctor about this.' It's a very sad story for everyone, but for those of us who have been touched even slightly by the condition, by any of the related conditions, it's just hits a lot harder and a lot closer to home," said Gilbreath.
Hinman was diagnosed with Choriocarcinoma, a rare cancer that develops in the placenta. By the time she went to the hospital, it had spread to her lungs, with too many tumors to count.
Choriocarcinoma can begin as a molar pregnancy, which is when the fertilized egg cell lacks maternal genes and fetal tissue but continues to grow. The disease can also grow from tissue that remains in the uterus following a miscarriage or childbirth.
"This isn't the first, second, third, or tenth thing you would think of in a woman 30 weeks pregnant complaining of shortness of breath," said Dr. David Landsberg, the chief of medicine at Crouse Hospital in a March interview.
After giving birth, Hinman survived weeks of high risk treatment and her cancer counts were dropping. But this weekend, she came down with pneumonia and wasn't able to recover. She died Monday.
"It's gotten a lot more attention. Jenna Hinman's story and Dr. Arnold [from TLC's show, The 'Little Couple'] has brought more attention in the last month or two than it had in the whole time I've been doing this site. Which is a good thing for the people who don't know about it or have family members who have it and they don't quite know what it is," said Gilbreath.
Gilbreath sends her sympathies to the family and hopes they get the support they need to make it through this difficult time.
Doctors say the twins are a miracle. Only 20 percent to 30 percent of Choriocarcinoma patients will have live births.
My Molar Pregnancy Support Group