My husband and I prior to my diagnosis of breast cancer were infertile. We had several pregnancies losses and male infertility after the birth of our only living child Hope. We had lost a baby to a rare disease prior to Hope named Avery. Years had gone by of genetic testing and fertility treatment. We had to save money to try an IVF cycle. The cycle failed. We kept trying and on our 10th wedding anniversary. I had some happy news to tell husband. We were expecting again. The pregnancy was going well, until the ultra sounds showed this baby had the same fatal rare disease that Avery died from. A week before Thanksgiving in 2009, Addison was born still. We were trying to sort out how did this happen again with the doctors. We were actively looking into options to have another child. It was early May 2010, I noticed blood on my left breast. I am thinking an infection? Googled it and saw everything from a cyst to cancer. So, I went to the walk in clinic. Something felt wrong to me. They found a mass in my nipple. I had a mammogram and surgery . Some friends told me not to worry too much because it was most likely a cyst.
The Friday before Memorial Day. I had Hope home for her dentist appointment. The breast surgeon called, “please come to the hospital immediately.” I have Hope here I kept saying. A local friend left work early and to meet me at the hospital. I was told I had cancer. I remember leaving the doctor’s office in shock. I had to put my best face on. I drove Hope to her dentist appointment. My husband worked an hour and half down in Rhode Island at the time. I didn’t want to have him get into an accident.
After the dentist appointment, Hope looks at me. She is about 4 years old. “Did I miss lunch?” I am looking at the clock it’s 2PM and I forgot to feed my child. I held myself together, because what do you tell a 4 years old child? My husband of course gets caught in Memorial Day traffic. The second he came through the door all the grief came out and he could barely understand me. Friends and neighbors came to the house that night. I sort of remember. I fell asleep that night late and woke up early. I went into Hope’s room and the waves of guilt overwhelmed me. We had just lost Addison. Hope was going to graduate from preschool. We just found a private kindergarten for her. I had just started a new position at work. I had no clue how I was going to do it all. It took weeks for us to explain it to her. We read a lot of books together. The American Cancer Society help us with some books. My hospital had a program to help guide parents with cancer. Her school, friends, my job and my neighbors were supportive.
I wanted to wait until after Hope’s 5th birthday to start chemo. My first treatment, she begged me not to go to chemo, because it was “bad medicine.” Her whole thinking was what medication makes you loose your hair. Over time, she accepted it. When the wig came off, she began to wear it dancing around the house. Sadly, my mother died half way through my cancer treatment. My mother was my world all of my life. Four years later, Hope is graduating from third grade at a public school in a small neighboring local town. In her school system, the children graduate from one elementary school to another in third grade. She was chosen by lottery to attend this school. She is a smart kid! We are still struggling with how to have another child. A year after cancer treatment, I was allowed to start fertility treatment again. None of the IUI’s or IVF’s work. We are moving on to embryo donation through a program on the West Coast.