Here is the story from my IM’s point of view:
Joy, Pain, Gratitude and Life!
As most of you have been following this journey, you probably know a little bit about me already. My life has been filled with so many blessings; an amazing family, a wonderful husband, a successful career, and a son I love more than I could have ever imagined. But through all of these blessings there have been some setbacks as well. The day my son was born was a bittersweet day. Unexpectedly, we had a really difficult delivery. My placenta had grown into the side of my uterus and after Camden was delivered via a C-section the doctors had to perform an emergency hysterectomy that required me to accept 8 liters of transfused blood to save my life.
After recovering, we realized how blessed we were that nothing worse had happened. The doctors told me my uterus was paper-thin and could have burst at any moment, which would have been a terrible disaster for the both of us. We knew God was looking out for us that day and were feeling so fortunate to have a healthy baby boy. But in the back of our minds was the looming fact that we’d likely not be able to grow our family beyond the three of us. My doctor came in and sat on the hospital bed and told me not to feel discouraged. There were options out there and since my ovaries had been spared, surrogacy was a very viable and realistic option.
After Camden was older we started pursuing the idea. We started working with Conceivabilities and it took 18 months for us to be matched with a potential surrogate. Leslie and Anton were the first couple we met and we literally fell in love with them after only talking with them for a few hours. We certainly wanted to work with them, but would they want to work with us? We found out quickly that they did and we were thrilled to have been matched with a couple that seemed so down to earth, caring, and just all around good people.
We had to go through a few more steps before we could speak with them again and months went by before I received a phone call at work from our caseworker at Coneivabilities. She sounded so concerned… it turns out that Anton is a second or third cousin of mine and would that be a problem for me? I was shocked more than anything that I didn’t know how I was related to Anton. After we found out the relation, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t recognized him. In fact, my aunt Beth sent me a photo from a party 11 years ago and apparently Anton and I had known each other quite well back then! This wasn’t a problem for me at all, and in fact, makes this journey even more special for us. Ty and I feel like we’d be really fortunate to have a long-term relationship with Anton and Leslie and this experience might actually bring our families closer together.
It was so great to finally get to talk to Leslie and before we knew it we were being whisked away by a multitude of doctor appointments. During the surrogacy process they will sync Leslie and I’s cycles before they transfer the embryos and we were off and going with a ‘mock cycle’ in January. Earlier that month, I had felt a suspicious lump in my breast and had talked to my gynecologist about it. She felt it was likely a cyst but sent me to get a mammogram just in case. At the end of January, I got the mammogram and knew something wasn’t right when I saw the radiologists reaction. We did a biopsy the next week and one day after my 35th birthday I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My first question was if I’d be able to continue the surrogacy process. I had to get answers quick, as we were just 3 weeks away from our transfer date. I spoke with my oncologist and surgeon and they both felt like I had caught this early and the type of cancer I have (her2 positive) has very effective treatments. We also visited our doctor at CCRM (the fertility clinic) and all 3 doctors agreed that if I was up for it, we should continue the process.
There were so many difficult emotions to deal with. I had been dreaming of a second child for so long. I was scared to death about the cancer but I think even more terrified that this would put an end to our surrogacy journey. I just wasn’t sure how Leslie would feel about going through this with someone who was battling cancer. I was so relieved to find out she wanted to continue. With everyone on board and the doctors feeling very positive about a treatment plan for the cancer, we went ahead with the embryo transfer in the beginning of March. It was a day I will never forget. It was absolutely magical how so many stars could align to make Ty and I’s dreams of extending our family come true.
Two days later my doctor called and told me the cancer had spread to my liver. They had done a routine PET scan and weren’t expecting to find anything but saw a 2.5 cm tumor on my liver. It was biopsied and confirmed to be breast cancer that had spread. I can’t even tell you how hard that news was to hear. I can’t even describe the emotional pain I have gone through in the last few months. But like all things, you have to face the challenges that come your way and a positive and hopeful attitude can make a huge difference.
After breast cancer has spread, it is extremely hard for doctors to understand your prognosis. The good news is there are incredible drugs to fight the type of cancer I have and since it is a limited spread the doctors are treating me aggressively with curative intent. I have gone through six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, will have liver and breast surgery done over the next month and finish all this out with radiation in September just in time for our precious babies to arrive.
Life is so full of ups and downs. It is so hard to understand why some of these things happen to us. But we trust that God has a plan for us and despite these hurdles we have so many wonderful blessings to celebrate. Leslie and Anton, as you all know, are incredible people. We are so lucky to have them in our lives. Gratitude doesn’t even begin to describe our feelings and in fact it’s hard to really explain in words how grateful we truly are.
Every day I think about the arrival of these two babies. I think about the amazing way they are being brought into this world. I think about how fortunate we are to have this opportunity and how much love is going to surround these children. It brings me so much joy… our family will finally be complete.