Having a Baby After Cancer
Eight women share their inspiring journeys to motherhood
As if finding out that you have cancer isn't hard enough, imagine if on top of that news you learn that you might not be able to have a baby. About 63,000 women under age 45 will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to Fertile Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides fertility resources to women with cancer. And while recent research has shown that becoming pregnant after cancer doesn't cause recurrences, or health problems in children, many survivors struggle with fertility complications -- and all have to wrestle with the idea of that, at some point, the cancer could return. "A woman has to acknowledge the reality that she could die. She and her partner have to weigh the risk of recurrence and address the possibility that her child could be raised without her," says Charles L. Shapiro, M.D., director of breast medical oncology for the Arthur Jean James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "It's a very personal decision."
Many women also have to face the judgment of others, who question their choice to have a child when their future isn't guaranteed. "Having cancer is not a crime," says Douglas Moss, M.D., an ob-gyn at Mt. Siani Hospital in New York City. "These women have had a bad break and they deserve to have an opportunity to make the choice to become parents."
Babytalk spoke with remarkable survivors about their struggles with cancer and how they beat the odds to have a baby. Here are their stories.