Lauren Diagnosed at 37
I was 37 when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 B ER PR positive breast cancer. I was about to celebrate my second wedding anniversary and my son turned 10 months old the day I was diagnosed. I had just lost my pregnancy weight and was eating better than I ever had and exercising five days a week. I was in tip-top shape, or so I thought. I looked great and felt great. People that knew me viewed me as “healthy” and just couldn’t believe it.
After getting over the initial fear that I had just been handed a death sentence, my worries quickly turned to my ability to have another child. I had two siblings and I always wanted my son to have a sibling as well. My oncologist said I could have a child but due to the medication I would eventually be on, I would have to wait five years and that would have made me 43. My husband threw a tantrum in the office and said he wasn’t having any children after age 42 (he is older than me). My sister (age 42) spoke up and offered to be a gestational surrogate for me and he was adamantly against it. We met with a fertility specialist about our options and my husband was still against it, because it wasn’t “natural”. I struggled so hard with how the cancer had affected my fertility and it nearly ended my marriage. In the end, my husband agreed to it but then I had very few follicles and my IVF nurse almost cancelled my IVF cycle. But it was my last chance before I had to begin chemo, so we went for it.
I had two embryos make it. Knowing I still had the chance to have another child gave me the strength I needed to get through chemo and radiation. After finishing radiation, I started Letrazole, Zoladex, and began a clinical trial for Ibrance - all three of which I still take. While I began those treatments, we began the process of having our baby via our gestational surrogate, my sister. We had a very small chance of it working but we welcomed our baby girl in February 2019. There were times during my sister’s pregnancy that I started doubting my choice to have another child because what if the cancer returned and I didn’t live and I left two children without a mother? Then I would remind myself that if I limit myself due to the cancer, I’m allowing myself to die of cancer instead of allowing myself to live with cancer. I’m still scared occasionally, but I have hope that there will be a cure very soon.
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