- NBC News anchor Michelle Velez shared with viewers this week that she’s been diagnosed with cancer.
- She said the cancer was the result of a rare “molar” pregnancy.
- She’s currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments and chronicling her journey on Instagram.
An NBC news anchor based in Las Vegas took to social media this week to let viewers know why she’s been absent from the air: She was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer, which was brought on by a molar pregnancy.
“Last week I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that was caused by an abnormal pregnancy,” Michelle Velez wrote on Facebook, describing the condition. “It’s a pregnancy that is not viable—meaning a fetus never formed—but instead of miscarrying.. the pregnancy continued to grow and produced invasive tissue. In some very rare cases that tissue can turn into cancer and spread to other organs in the body. That is what happened to me.”
On Instagram, Velez shared a photo from her first round of chemotherapy treatments. “Every day I go in for treatment,” she wrote. “I have this inner battle with myself. On one hand I hate knowing all this harsh stuff is going inside me..taking a toll on my body—but on the other hand—it’s also the only thing saving my life.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms for a molar pregnancy include dark brown to bright red vaginal bleeding during the first trimester, severe nausea and vomiting, vaginal passage of grapelike cysts, and pelvic pain.
It’s caused by an abnormally fertilized egg, meaning an empty egg is fertilized by one or two sperm, and the condition is diagnosed in roughly 0.1 percent of pregnancies, or 1 in 1000. Of those, 15 to 20 percent of molar pregnancies will result in gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN), which means molar tissue may remain and continue to grow or mutate. Even more rarely, that tissue becomes cancerous, which is called choriocarcinoma. That’s what happened to Velez.
Still, Velez is staying positive, as she has two young children at home. “I know everyone is worried about me and scared,” she told TODAY Health. “But I feel confident that I am going to be okay.”