Having a Baby After Cancer
Eight women share their inspiring journeys to motherhood
Elizabeth Jurenovich, 42, is the executive director of Abrazo Adoption Associates. She lives with her sons, Matthew, 2, and Christian, 3 1/2, in San Antonio, Texas.
In August 2001, I had my first-ever mammogram at age 38. The doctors found a malignant tumor in my breast. My mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer one year earlier, so I sort of saw the writing on the wall. Rather than doing radiation or chemo, I decided to have a bilateral mastectomy. On the day the surgery was set to happen, I was in pre-op being prepped, when one of my tests came back with unexpected results: I was pregnant with my first child!
My surgery was postponed until February, late in my second trimester. Meanwhile, in January 2002, I tested positive for BRCA-1 (a breast/ovarian cancer susceptibility gene). I had the mastectomy on Valentine's Day 2002, and my son, Christian, was born just six weeks later. Knowing the BRCA-1 status increased my risk for ovarian cancer, and contemplating the possibility of a prophylactic hysterectomy, I opted to birth my second son, Matthew, soon thereafter, in August 2003. Just one year after his birth, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Fortunately, it was also successfully treated, with radiation therapy and a thyroidectomy.
Christian and Matthew were born so close together, I call them my Irish twins. They're even the same size: Christian was a preemie and Matthew has never met a food group he didn't like! Though Christian has hydrocephalus and his motor skills were slightly developmentally delayed, he has caught up, and he's now a busy 3-year-old -- going on 14. Matthew developed meningitis after he was born, but today he's thriving.
I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I am so thankful for both of my sons and all of my doctors, and for the continued good health which allows us to enjoy every day we have together. God is good...and parenting is wonderful!