I turned 33 today. I was 28 when I was diagnosed with what I only knew was an aggressive and late-stage breast cancer. Scared, in the doctor’s office, I wondered if I’d live to reach 30.
But that wasn’t my only worry. Shakily, I squeaked out, “will I still be able to have kids?”
In my very rudimentary understanding of breast cancer in young women, I knew that many breast cancers were linked to hormones and that patients would have to take a hormone-reducing pill for at least five years.
At only two years into a new relationship, you’d think kids wouldn’t be at the forefront of my mind. But I had decided I wanted to be a mother when I was 14 years old. Of course, it wasn’t a good idea to DO anything about that desire at 14, and as I moved through my college and immediate post-college years of not dating anyone seriously and being a global vagabond, I figured I had plenty of time. After all, my mom had had me at 35 and most of my friends were waiting on kids.
But when I got the diagnosed, the clock started ticking. Would I be able to freeze eggs before treatment? Would my boyfriend stay with me? Would my cancer be hormone positive or negative? Would I live long enough that any of those questions would even matter?
The boyfriend married me a few months later. I was expected to survive for a good long time. My cancer did turn out to be hormone positive and that and the aggressiveness led my oncologist to veto egg freezing. Without backup eggs frozen, my focus became getting and staying in remission so I could take a break from my hormone therapy and get pregnant.
Well, as the saying goes, THAT, didn’t work. A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer meant that I would continue on hormone-blocking therapy for life, and that pregnancy would be an enormous hazard to my health. Plus, a Stage IV diagnosis would render me an unsuitable adoptive parent.
Enter Trish. Trish, in the same situation as me down to the brain mets, hormone positive cancer and not having time to preserve eggs at initial diagnosis, had had a beautiful baby through egg donation and surrogacy. And as luck would have it, she was part of my Hear My Voice class of 2017. I got to know her (and eventually her precious Grayson) and admire her greatly as I found my voice as an advocate for alternative family building for cancer patients. Now I want to amplify her voice.
Since Trish and her husband Greg decided to have a child through surrogacy years ago, they have been videotaping their journey. The rawest, most personal moments of both MBC and having a baby have been documented through a camera lenses. And now their documentary, Love Always, Mom, is about to make it’s debut at the Bentonville Film Festival. The goal of the film is to raise knowledge of both MBC and the issues a cancer diagnosis brings to having a family, and also to raise money for metastatic breast cancer research (benefiting organizations like Metavivor).
For my birthday, I want to ask you for your help for Trish to make a successful debut. This documentary is about hope, about infertility and MBC. It is to bring the threads of womanhood, of incurable illness and living life in three-month increments together. And ultimately it is to bring the funds needed to research – the research needed for moms (and dads, men get breast cancer too) to live long enough and with enough quality of life to have their babies and see those babies grow up. That’s all we want.
Sweet Grayson gives me hope
The love between them melts my heart