As someone going through infertility, I’ve watched along as they suffered two failed IVF treatments (at the same clinic I go to in Chicago), and then her heartbreaking breast cancer announcement, which resulted in a double mastectomy last December. When she first announced that she had breast cancer last October, I was devastated by the news—it hit close to home in a lot of ways. The Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, where she was then seeking fertility treatments, insisted she get a routine mammogram before her embryo transfer, which is when they discovered the lumps in her breasts.
Although the clinic I go to in Chicago doesn’t require its patients to get mammograms before embryo transfers, the first thing I did after hearing her news was schedule a mammogram (my first). This was before my first frozen embryo transfer was set to take place in November, which got canceled (read why). Before I was going to implant an embryo I wanted to know I was doing so in a clean, cancer-free state. (The mammogram came back negative thankfully.)
I remember the day I got the mammogram and how emotional it was—I had no reason to believe I had breast cancer, but just the act of going to get it (during my lunch hour at work, solo), felt like a powerful thing to do. I was being proactive about my health, leaving nothing to chance. Watching Giuliana go through infertility and breast cancer, which she’s done very publicly, has helped me stay positive throughout my own journey. It’s easy to get beaten down by infertility, especially after you’ve already had a couple of failed IVF attempts, but you can’t let yourself focus on the negatives, as impossible as that may seem. Look at two people who presumably have “it all”—amazing careers, success, fame, a great marriage—yet were battling cancer, in the midst of their third attempt at having a baby through IVF. Putting it all out there for the world to see.
No, she’s not the first person to go through infertility or breast cancer—unfortunately I know many other women (and men) who’ve had life-threatening cancer diagnoses—but the fact that she was going through infertility when she found out about the cancer, after the long infertility road they’d already been on, really struck a chord with me. Watching her go through it made me that much more grateful for my own blessings, namely my son, and my health. They opened their lives up to the world, during the hardest moments of life, to shed light on not one but two diseases. Not so you and I could feel sorry for them; they didn’t want people's sympathy. They wanted to help others—to not feel so alone, to not feel ashamed, to not feel defeated. They wanted to help people like me appreciate the positive things in my life. And guess what? It worked.
I’m a huge fan of the show, which airs Tuesdays (tonight) on the Style Network—my husband and I watch it together actually. Bill’s Chicago roots, and the occasional cameo from friends, usually make it a fun hour of reality TV for us. It's an important hour of reality TV: This season kicked off with Giuliana’s breast cancer battle, so I can’t exactly watch it without a box of tissues nearby. Last week’s episode followed them to meet their potential gestational carrier, a woman they seemed to click with immediately.
I won’t lie, at the end of it, I thought: I wonder if that’s something we’d ever consider? (Ignoring the high price tag, I think it runs between $80-$100k.) I even asked my husband if he’d ever consider using a gestational carrier with our embryos (to which he responded, Can we afford it?). It’s certainly something I’m thinking about now—personally, I think it's a beautiful option. As I’ve mentioned a few times, we have a good amount of frozen embryos in storage and, if it turns out I can't carry one, who knows.
What was your reaction when you heard the news that Giuliana and Bill Rancic were finally expecting? Would you ever consider using a gestational carrier, if cost wasn't an issue?