December 13th, 2011
10:39 AM ET
In the Human Factor we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle - injury, illness or other hardship - they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week we meet Sarah Werner, who battled advanced cervical cancer at age 26, but who didn't let her diagnosis get in the way of her dream to become a mom.
I do not regret having cancer. Even though I am reminded daily, with visible scars and various pains that I might never be "whole" again, I would not change or alter my experience.
First of all, I learned that I had the strength to face something as daunting as cancer, while still managing to see humor even during my darkest hours.
And perhaps most importantly of all, I had family and friends who rallied around me in ways that I believe permanently shaped who I am today.
However, there is one aspect of my illness that I would not wish on anyone: infertility. When I was told at the age of 26 that the only option to save my life was a hysterectomy, I seriously contemplated not continuing with treatments.
My skilled surgeons and specialized physicians knew how to battle my illness, but they treated my infertility like a side effect of the treatment. To me, the fact that I would never carry a child was almost as serious as the cancer. I was surprised that fighting cancer was not nearly as hard as fighting for a child.
It is almost impossible for me to put into words the grief that infertility can cause. I have found that people can be supportive of illnesses like cancer, but the pain of infertility seems to be rarely discussed.
It's not only the potentially crushing financial costs of fertility treatments and the fear of the unknown, but it's also the well-meaning but often misguided and hurtful comments made by strangers.
In 2001, when I was told that a gestational carrier would have to carry my child - IF the process worked - the concept was completely foreign and bizarre to me. But I did it.
I am so glad that 10 years later, non-traditional motherhood, including surrogacy or adoption, is not so taboo. I feel compelled to share my story not because I think it is particularly unique, but because I want to convey that no obstacle is impossible to overcome if you want it badly enough. I think the odds were not stacked in my favor, but the drive to be a mother was simply more powerful than doubt.
As I sit here in the middle of the night contemplating how to put hope into words, I can only share my story. It may be delirium due to lack of sleep, but as I look at my newborn son, I consider all it took to get him here.
He is here thanks to cutting edge technology, the support of friends and family, sheer willpower, perhaps a touch of divine intervention and brilliant doctors. Sounds like he and I may have a lot in common already.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.