Manitowoc woman fighting aggressive breast cancer while pregnant due on Christmas Eve

NOW: Manitowoc woman fighting aggressive breast cancer while pregnant due on Christmas Eve

MANITOWOC, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A pregnant Manitowoc woman who’s battling breast cancer is sharing her story in the hopes it will encourage others to fight for their health.

Crystal Zander is 38 years old and eight months pregnant. This Christmas, Crystal and her husband Tim Saari will be celebrating their four year anniversary, the same time their miracle baby, Quinton is due.

For years, Crystal and Tim tried for a baby, but they weren’t successful. The moment they stopped trying, Crystal’s wish came true, she called Tim right away.

”I walked in the door and I said, you’re pregnant,” said Tim.

“I had the card printed out with the baby’s due date and everything and it was wonderful, it was wonderful news,” added Crystal.

Two months before Crystal became pregnant, she felt a lump, but doctors told her it was just dense breast tissue.

”He didn’t order any tests or anything like that and just said it’s dense breast tissue, which runs in my family so for me I was just relieved,” Crystal said.

That sense of relief changed six months into her pregnancy, when the lump started to get painful.

Doctors sensed something wasn’t right during her ultrasound, and two days later confirmed she had cancer.

“I remember coming home and just breaking down,” Crystal said.

”We had this wonderful news to begin with, then all of a sudden we have the terrible news we have to deal with and I’m trying to figure out how we’re going to take care of baby, how we’re going to take care of her with all the procedures, treatments and appointments,” added Tim.

Even with the bad news, Crystal found a silver lining. This Thanksgiving, she’s thankful for her miracle baby, Quinton.

Crystal says baby Quinton is healthy as can be, and he’s due on Christmas Eve. Crystal will be 38 weeks into her pregnancy by that time.

“I am really thankful for him,” said Crystal. “I do wish that we had caught the cancer earlier, but the thing is, if we had, and we had to do chemo, I wouldn’t of been able to get pregnant.”

”Every time I see the ultrasounds it’s like I can’t believe it’s real, it’s happening and we get closer and closer and closer and then we’re going to have this little guy here,” said Tim.

Quinton will be delivered through a C-section, but during that time, Crystal will also undergo a mastectomy and have her ovaries removed to better manage the cancer.

”The cancer is hormone-fed, so I have a triple positive,” said Crystal. “So we have to get it at all angles.”

She hopes her story is a wake-up call.

“Just keep fighting, you need to advocate for your own health,” said Crystal.

For now, Crystal is receiving chemotherapy safe for pregnancy, but won’t know if the cancer is terminal until after the baby is born.

”Being pregnant, they can’t do any scans to tell you how far along the cancer is, how far it has spread or if it’s terminal,” she said. “You just have to wait until the baby comes.”

Crystal says some days are harder than others, but baby Quinton is the fuel she needs to keep going.

Whenever she’s feeling down, she goes to his nursery and remembers the reason why she has to keep fighting.

”I’m going to fight so hard, I’m going to get through this, I’m going to be a mom to this little guy, he is so wanted and so loved, and I’m thankful for that,” said Crystal.

Crystal has already had three chemotherapy treatments so far and she says her tumor is getting smaller. She’ll have her last one on Black Friday before taking a break to have baby Quinton on Christmas Eve.

If you’d like to help the Saari family, click here.

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