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December 13th, 2011
10:39 AM ET

Human Factor: Conceiving after cancer

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.

I am also thankful for the amazing medical care I received from physicians, nurses and technicians that by the end of my treatment felt more like family than practitioners.

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.

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Filed under: Cancer • Pregnancy

soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. Jess

    Congrats on your new baby boy! I'm glad you were able to become a mother 🙂

    December 13, 2011 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Cheri

    I , too, am a survivor of cancer & was unable to conceive a child. However, I did conceive by way of a gift. A gift from God. We were blessed with a beautiful, little boy through adoption. I could not be happier. My life has changed because of cancer & I have become the person I am today because of it. Sounds crazy, but my life is remarkable because of cancer.

    December 13, 2011 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah M

      Thank you for sharing your story. Please visit healtheo360.com to find support and encourage others with stories just like you. Learn, inspire and belong. Healtheo360 is not just another support group. It's a caring network. It's a place to find inspiration and help others in need. You can join to give support, receive support or just listen and learn from truly remarkable people. Let your story be heard. Real People. Real Stories. Real Life.™ healtheo360.com

      Sarah M
      healtheo360.com
      Real People. Real Stories. Real Life.™

      January 3, 2013 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
  3. Dr.Science

    Thank you for sharing your story and thank to CNN for publishing it! I can't imagine all you had to endure as a cancer patient, but I am happy that as a cancer survivor you are enjoying your life with your little bundle of joy! Congratulations!

    December 13, 2011 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Kristie

    I too am a young cancer survivor and I was diagnosed in 2007 and sent into remission in 2008. I had NH Lymphoma and I may not be able to conceive a child from my chemo. Thank you for sharing your story. I at sometimes feel like that part has been taken away, and then stories like this from other survivors come along and restore faith again. Congratulations on both defeating cancer and your new baby.

    December 13, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NeutralMind

      Kristie: Don't count it out. My friend too had NH Lymphoma and was told she could never have a baby. She spent over $10k to freeze her eggs and more but guess what? 2 years later, she got pregnant by accident and had to abort. People at her hospital were so shocked by it but now she knows she can get pregnant.

      December 14, 2011 at 15:21 | Report abuse |
    • D

      She should count herself lucky because the odds were against that happening.

      December 14, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah M

      Thank you for sharing your story. Please visit healtheo360.com to find support and encourage others with stories just like you. Learn, inspire and belong. Healtheo360 is not just another support group. It's a caring network. It's a place to find inspiration and help others in need. You can join to give support, receive support or just listen and learn from truly remarkable people. Let your story be heard. Real People. Real Stories. Real Life.™ healtheo360.com

      Sarah M
      healtheo360.com
      Real People. Real Stories. Real Life.™

      January 3, 2013 at 17:32 | Report abuse |
  5. Jules

    I am mortified that your fertility was viewed as a side effect. I can't imagine the devastation you went through. I imagine you feel that loss daily. I have often thought that losing my breasts I could handle way more than losing my ability to bear children. I dread menopause, and not because of the symptoms, or the aging implications. Bless you and your son.

    December 13, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jennifer

    I am a 5 year breast cancer survivor at 41 and my husband a 2 year survivor of a leukemia diagnosis 3 years after me! Yes, we have dealt wtih a handful in 5 years. Your story is inspiring. The thought of not being able to have children is sad to us however we realize there are so many other ways to make a difference for ourselves and a child through adoption or other options. Thank you for adding another bright spot to my day and sharing your positive experience!

    December 13, 2011 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Kay

    Hi Sarah,
    Your article came at the perfect time for me, and I really hope you read these comments! What you wrote about the grief of infertility was amazing. You captured how I feel..the deep in your bones feeling of sadness. It is horrible. I carry within a deep pain that I don't know if it will ever go away completely. I have heard that it does not, and that you never really get away "pang" free when you see someone who is pregnant..Anyway..the reason your story touched me is because after 8 years of infertility procedures, donor egg, and no success..we are adopting! We have been waiting a year to be matched with a birth mother and I am getting extremely discouraged. I almost feel like giving up, at times. Your post gave me hope that if I just hang in there, it will happen. Thank you so much..I will return here and read your words of encouragement. You have been a blessing to me and so many others. Congratulations on your amazing little boy!!!!

    December 13, 2011 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • txwtch67

      Kay, it must be nice to be able to spend all that money on a "maybe". The old testament says an adopted child is better loved because they are chosen. You could have spent all that money on adoptions, or heaven forbid, donate to an orphanage. It never ceases to amaze me how egotistical us women can be. My mom lost the ability to have children after cancer. Did she waste money she didn't have? No, she went every week to the orphanages and helped, brought kids home on weekends and organized toy drives, sewed them clothes. Had a homeful of children's home kids over all the time. Can you say your as selfless?

      December 14, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
    • NeverInaMillion

      Do not get yourself upset at the thoughtless, hurtful words of others. Trying desperately to have children is not egotisticalness or conceitedness. It is one's own decision for one's own life. We are all different, walking in different shoes with different heads on our shoulders. Our decisions are our own to make on this without having to bear venom and self-righteousness from others. Yes, adoption and fostering are wonderful and loving. So is bearing your own children, in vitro, surrogacy, whatever. So is remaining childless, as well. The only thing to really think about in the processes are the situation of fertilized eggs that are never implanted because we really don't know the ethics or ramifications of that. I am so fortunate to be able to bear wonderful healthy children with no problems conceiving; I would never in a million years want to criticize others who have pain I can't even imagine.

      December 14, 2011 at 13:03 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Well said NeverInaMillion

      December 14, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
  8. rowan

    Wow. I just have to chime in here and say that I can think of a lot of things waaaaay worse than losing the ability to have biological children. Millions of women already have that problem, without ever having cancer. Millions more women lose their fertility due to health problems like cancer. Yet the norm for our society is still to try as hard as you can to have a baby, and you are looked down upon if you give up that chance "too easily".
    My personal belief is that my own life comes before the life of a child I may not even be able to have at all. I had to make that choice, my health or the chance to have children of my own, and I chose my own life. What is the point of fighting to have a child if you cannot even take care of yourself because you are so sick?
    There are many other ways for a woman to be a mother even if she cannot have a child of her own. Stories like this are both uplifting and upsetting, because no woman should feel inadequate just because she cannot have a child, and women shouldn't chastise those of us who choose to give up that chance in trade for our own lives and health.
    When will accepting your infertility and moving on with your life in another way and raising children that aren't your "own" become the norm? Because in America today, if you don't fight for the right to have a biological child, you must not be a real woman. At least, that's been my experience, and clearly is the opinion of the woman in this story and the other commenters. It's sad, because being a woman is so much more than just having a baby.

    December 13, 2011 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MashaSobaka

      You said just about everything I was thinking. Bravo. I really hope that we will one day reach a point where no woman will feel defined by her uterus.

      December 13, 2011 at 19:49 | Report abuse |
    • My opinion

      Rowan and MashaSobaka, true that doesn't define a woman and I dont think she is saying that is what she is using to define herself as a woman (I don't get that impression at all from reading the article). MAYBE she just wanted a child of her own whether its biological, adopted etc not because it will be used to define herself as a woman.

      December 14, 2011 at 08:36 | Report abuse |
    • KS

      You obviously have never dealt with the grief of infertility. Yes, you can adopt. But accepting the loss of your dream of biological motherhood is hard. It's something most people never have to think about, children are just given to those whether they deserve it or not, whether they will be good parents are not. You do not get to judge this woman when you haven't walked in her shoes. Good for you that you say it wouldn't bother you, you haven't been there so you wouldn't really know.

      December 14, 2011 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
    • Victoria

      Good for you, Rowan, and a few others. As I say, I never took the "detour" of having kids. And, it is unfortunate that so many women feel that they are "nothing" without having a kid, doing the mommy thing. And, really, why have children if one has to spend 10 hours commuting and working daily to run home and spend a few hours with the kid? And, at 26, thinking I could never have children? There is so much more to life than having kids, particularly even in the 20s, like college, advanced studies, other options. And, perhaps this will be a lesson for many to get yearly Pap smears and cervical exams since when caught early, the chances of advanced cancer stages are much less. I've concluded that many women want children to fit in with the work culture, where you have to talk about the kids, the weddings, and all that stuff on a regular basis, instead of "intellectual" matters.

      December 14, 2011 at 11:12 | Report abuse |
    • Rowan

      Hey KS, I just wanted to say that yes, I do know the "pain" of infertility. I had to choose my fertility or my health, as I mentioned in my first comment. I want to say that I am NOT judging anyone or their choice, I just think no one should judge those of us who chose our own lives over our fertility, either. I commented on the other comments that said certain things that I disagree with and wanted to point out that this article only enforces the whole "woman must have a child to be a woman" belief in our society today. The subject of this article found herself contemplating not treating her cancer just so she could have a biological child, and I find that revelation to be very telling about how she felt about her position as a woman. Clearly, at one point she felt having a baby was more important than her own health, and I do not think that is a choice any woman should have to make-we have other options besides biological children.

      I cannot have biological children of my own, at all. This is due to health problems and a choice I had to make-sure, it sucks that I'll never have my own kid, but trying to get pregnant and have a kid just so I could say I tried at least made no sense to me. So, I can talk about this because I have been there, and I chose my own life over staying sick just so I could try for a biological child. It was a tough choice, but it was the right one, and yet I still get questioned why I didn't try harder. This article seems to reinforce that whole ideal in our society that a woman should never give up her chance to reproduce biologically. The reality is that millions of us women do not get that choice at all. The subject of this article got very lucky, and her approach is not for everybody.

      December 14, 2011 at 12:05 | Report abuse |
    • NeutralMind

      You really can't make that judgment since you're not her, can you?
      I'm a woman and never wanted to have kids. Ever. My career and my family always came first. Only in the last year since I hit 30 is when I've started thinking of the probability of having a baby and even then as someone who never cared to have one, I will be devastated if I can't have it. It's simple as that.

      December 14, 2011 at 15:28 | Report abuse |
    • D

      If you ever find yourself "devastated" for any reason, then please get professional help. I'm serious.

      December 14, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse |
  9. I CONCUR!

    ITS AMAZING THE HAND OF CARDS WE ARE DEALT & THE RESULT OF OUR DECISION BASED ON SHEER COMPASION.

    December 13, 2011 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Dr. Right

    Maybe if she hadn't been screwing around out of wedlock she never would have had the virus that gave her cancer!! She deserves what she got!

    December 13, 2011 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • compassionate friend

      Women can get cervical cancer without being exposed to the HPV virus. You are only showing your ignorance and bigotry. Didn't your mother tell you "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"!

      December 13, 2011 at 21:09 | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      I feel sorry for you. It must be hard to be such a miserable person.

      December 14, 2011 at 00:54 | Report abuse |
    • Victoria

      But, as I wrote earlier, yearly pap smears and cervical exams would have detected this earlier, in early stages, and it could have been treatable.

      December 14, 2011 at 11:15 | Report abuse |
  11. Emelia

    Pretty quickly the comments went from inspiring to disagreeable. I'm a woman, I'm a feminist, I don't let bits and pieces define me, and it doesn't sound like the author did ever. Sounded to me like she wanted to conceive, but was unable to. Doesn't seem like a reason to be negative. And Dr. Right, there are many STDs, I don't remember cancer being among them. She didn't say she wasn't married either–who's to say she tried to conceive out of wedlock?
    Great story, Sarah. Wish you and your son the best.

    December 13, 2011 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      FYI, some cancers are caused by viruses. These viruses are spread through sexual activity. You may want to do some reading.

      December 14, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
    • D

      To clarify, the viruses can be spread by sexual activity. Oral cancers and cervical cancers are two examples.

      December 14, 2011 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
  12. M.

    Sarah: Thank you very much for your inspiring story! This hits close to home–I am dealing with a very similar situation. I was diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2010 and learned I cannot carry a child as a result. It has been a tremendous feeling of loss. I am currently undergoing the process of having my eggs withdrawn and searching for a surrogate so that my husband and I can have a child. I am so happy to hear your story about how this worked out for you and that you now have a healthy little boy. Congratulations, and thank you for sharing your story!

    December 13, 2011 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Deborah

    It is absolutely incredulous that some obviously ignorant people with no courtesy for others cannot keep their disrespectful comments to themselves. Sarah...I do understand how you feel that you didn't expect your fight for your life would be easier than dealing with infertility. My husband and I have been dealing with my infertility problems since my breast cancer diagnosis and related treatments at age 31. I have told numerous people that the infertility journey has been much more difficult than my cancer journey. Congratulations on your newborn baby:)

    December 13, 2011 at 22:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • M.

      Deborah: I agree with you. I have absolutely found the fertility journey to be more difficult than my cancer journey. Thank you for your comments.

      December 14, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Maybe get some counseling then, if you aren't already.

      December 14, 2011 at 16:30 | Report abuse |
  14. Deidre

    Sarah, I am so happy for you and your son. You sound like a remarkable woman and a very loving and caring mom, too. Don't let the negative comments get to you and pray that these "haters" don't have children, imagine what those poor children would have to deal with...a mother with no compassion. How sad for their children. You and your son are blessed.

    December 14, 2011 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. LaughingGirl

    Good God, be glad you're alive, and that medicine has advanced enough to save your life. Not long ago your diagnosis would have been a certain death sentence. You can't bear a child if you're dead. So what's really more important?

    Most women can pop out a kid; you survived cancer. That makes you truly unique. Isn't that enough?

    Kudos to rowan and MashaSobaka–well said, both of you. No one should be defined solely by their reproductive organs, and women need to stop giving in to pressure from society, family, and, most importantly, other women, to breed. Let's have some open discussion about deciding to be childless by choice for a change instead of ways to fuel the bloated fertility machine.

    December 14, 2011 at 02:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guest

      LaughingGirl, we don't know if its a personal decision/her choice to want to have a baby. Maybe it has nothing to do with the pressure of society, family and other women. Just like you made your choice, she probably made her choice to want a child or children.

      December 14, 2011 at 08:31 | Report abuse |
    • Victoria

      Child-free is the better way. There is so much more to life than having children.

      December 14, 2011 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Victoria- I believe thats your personal belief. She might not feel that way.

      December 14, 2011 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
  16. Oncology Center

    You have done great job.

    December 14, 2011 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Talie

    Thanks a lot for your story Sarah. Very inspiring. I understand what you have gone through. I did not go through it personally, but something similar. I had a benign ovarian tumor at 25. Thankfully it was confined only to one ovary. I went through days of scare/frustration/what-if, because we(myself, my family and friends) weren't sure if both ovaries were going to be removed until the day of the surgery, because the drs kept saying until they get in they can't assure me. Thankfully it was one ovary, so I still have a chance of being a biological mom and I owe it all to God. I read other comments from women that stated they suffered from infertility due to cancer/chemo. My word for you is God will provdie like He did for Sarah in due time. He is an on-time God.
    Congratulations on the birth of your son Sarah!!!!

    December 14, 2011 at 08:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. NJ Guy

    Chemo is a Fear Factor for (married) men, too. I had chemotherapy for nearly a year following multiple surgeries and radiation treatments. I saw my child born (shortly into my treatment course)and we wanted another. My oncologist never mentioned that it could affect fertility – and I was too scared and focused on living to do that sort of basic research. When I asked later, all physicians involved in my care team kept saying "well it "shouldn't" have done anything to you." But after a lot of failed attempts for us to conceive, I started digging into every available angle. The more I read, the more it hurt as the manufacturers stated that 'since chemo affects rapidly dividing cells, it frequently destroys those which produce sperm and, thus, results in permanent infertility. " I just HAD to be tested, but nobody would order it for me. I recently found and consulted with a pathologist who agreed that ifor peace of mind and an honest factual answer, we should proceed with the analysis. My happy ending ? After much worry and heartache, we found that I am "in production" and my wife and I can ppossibly, and safely, add another to our family circle. Prayers are sometimes answered.

    December 14, 2011 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      They really should have had you do a sperm sample for freezing before you even started the treatments.

      December 14, 2011 at 16:35 | Report abuse |
  19. amanda

    why is it so important to propagate your own genes ? You are not that special. Why not foster or adopt a child instead? Its amazing now selfish people can be. Thanks for further overpopulating this world with someone who will inherit the same risk of cancer.

    December 14, 2011 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NeverInaMillion

      How are you able to know who is "that special" and who is not? Or are you saying no person at all is special? What a sad world. Having biological children, even more than two of them, or trying extra hard to have them, is not selfish. No one needs to feel guilty for not adopting a child, although there are many who need families. Saying mean things, or trying to hurt others – now that is selfish. MHO.

      December 14, 2011 at 13:27 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Amanda, I agree with you. Also, something nobody has mentioned, cancer often has a genetic component as well, which could be passed down.

      December 14, 2011 at 16:36 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Meaning, no one mentioned it before you did.

      December 14, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
  20. Jack Be Humble

    The choices of alternative parenting are many and diverse. Some people choose to 'propogate their own genes', others pursue adoption. The decisions are not necessarily logical ones, but are about being true to one's self. To judge one person's decision as right and the other person wrong is... judgmental.

    Overpopulating the world is something that is happening each day; the choice to have more than two children per couple made by people half a world away precludes our choice to have children at all without contributing to overpopulation.

    December 14, 2011 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      The people "half a world away" have many because many of those children die, and each of those children use FAR fewer resources then a kid in the US. Meanwhile, people in the US are made to feel they are doing something wrong if they have no children or "only" one child.

      December 14, 2011 at 16:39 | Report abuse |
  21. You are no different

    Never in a million
    You are childish and inane. Thats worse than being selfish.

    December 14, 2011 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NeverInaMillion

      Obviously, the rule "it takes one to know one" is true. How childish or inane can you get? I guess we can see here. Let's stop all the insults and act like rational, loving people.

      December 14, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
  22. You are no different

    NeverinaMillion
    Thanks for proving my point about your childishness. I love your " I know you are but what am I ?" comment. You want to act rational? Then DARE to try and not have the last word on this. I myself am getting bored of you, so Ta TA

    December 14, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. sarah

    okay, "million" and "different" Stop arguing. "Million" you ARE being childish "Different" you are being a troll
    Its Christmas for crying out loud. Sheesh

    December 14, 2011 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. CCS

    Sarah-
    I can't thank you enough for coming forward and sharing your story. I am 26 yrs old and just celebrated my second year of being cancer-free after beating leukemia. My husband and I recently found out that I am now post-menopausal as a result of the chemo treatments I endured and I did not get the chance to harvest my eggs beforehand. It has been hard for us to process the news especially because none of our friends can relate to what we're going through. And as much as I loved my doctors, none of them were very forthright about the possibility of infertility which just made the news that much more shocking. Although the past few months have been difficult, my husband and I have accepted that we will not become parents in a traditional manner and we are learning to embrace the new adventure that lies ahead of us. We both know that we will make wonderful parents someday and the means to which we become parents isn't what matters. Your story gives cancer survivors who desire to be parents someday hope. Thank you.

    December 14, 2011 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      There seems to be a pattern here about doctors not informing patients properly before their procedures/treatments. Hopefully some are reading and may learn a thing or two about dealing with patients. The rest of your comment is beautiful, and I wish you the best.

      December 14, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
  25. Tam

    I have known three women who survived breast cancer, then got pregnant, had babies, then the cancer returned, and they died. A few doctor friends told me they suspect that the hormonal changes of pregnancy do something to the dormant cancer cells, and they return.

    December 14, 2011 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Dad of Future Medical Researcher

    There's far more hope today for women in your situation than there was just a few years ago. Research in "Oncofertility" (the study of how to preserve and/or restore the ability of cancer survivors to conceive) is achieving amazing results. My daughter participated in a program for young women interested in careers in medical science put on by the "Oncofertility Consortium" at Northwestern, and it was truly amazing what they've learned, and what they can do today!

    http://oncofertility.northwestern.edu/

    This is truly cutting-edge research, so you might need to educate your doctor. Don't just accept that your cancer treatment will end your options - look into it yourself, as early in the treatment process as possible.

    December 14, 2011 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Laura

    People who go through this much trouble to conceive are really selfish. Why must you procreate and pass your weak genes on?

    Adopt a child who really needs you.

    December 14, 2011 at 23:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah Torrens

      Laura, don't be so heartless. You never know someone's strife until you are in their shoes. Someone who has gone through this many struggles deserves the simple and God given right to experience motherhood.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:47 | Report abuse |
  28. Bethany

    Sarah, get over yourself!!! You are not, nor have you ever been infertile!!! You were able to have a child with you're own eggs. Being infertile means that you can't have a child PERIOD! Stop writing this crap until you really know what it's like to have a complete hysterectomy and never being able to conceive, not even with a surrogate. Then write a story about how hard it is to be infertile. You are full of crap.

    December 14, 2011 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Chef

    Wow, some of you haters out there...if only you walked in someones shoes that has been through cancer and trying to concieve afterwards. Adoption is one avenue but it is not for everyone and those who express anger for a women wanting to be both a wife and mother, not sure what to say to you. Everyone in life is defined by something. What is wrong with defining yourself by being a mother to her own biological children? Adoption is wonderful but it is also not without its own problems and it is not for everyone. If you choose not to have children in life, good for you. What an easy decision in life to deal with because you don't give anything up. But why hate the person who chooses to be a mother but struggles with infertility.

    December 14, 2011 at 23:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Nancy

    I am appalled at the level of judgementalism on these comments. I am infertile. I spent years trying to conveive, years mourning, years examining why I wanted to be a mother. The bottom line in all of that was that being a mom was what I was driven to be from the very core of my being. It had nothing to do with social pressure (though it is huge). It had everything to do with my own self-image based on the fabric of what makes me the person that I am. We ultimately adopted twice – at great expense and heartache to the children, to their first mothers, to both my husband and me since we are not able to answer all the questions of our children and can't "fix" things the way a parent should, and also great financial expense. Do I regret my choice to parent through adoption – not at all. But it has it's own challenges. To those of you out there that say "just adopt" – it is not that easy. You can't just go in and pick out a child at your local department store. The US has made it brutally difficult on the child who is at risk to find a stable home. Plus, if the child looks different from the parents, especially a special needs child – everyone seems to feel it is their right to come up and tell you all about the child being a reject, and other bits of "information" that they feel the need to share in front of the child. So telling someone to "just adopt or foster" is probably one of the cruelest things that can be said to a person unable to conceive or carry a child. Telling people they are selfish because of their desire to parent a child created out of the love of their marriage is also cruel. All creatures, all species, were created with the innate need to procreate. Just because we are more "advanced" does not mean that drive has or should be wiped out. To those who say there is more to life than having a child, and that the drive to have a child is just selfish – I have to say that is a selfish statement. The person who does not want to do anything but have experiences, to live life only ot please herself/himself is probably more selfish. What good are you doing for others? Are you willing to risk everything for another person? The person who wants to truly parent is willing to give up everything for the wellbeing of his/her child – to live life for another person. I see that as being the most selfLESS thing in the world.

    There are people out there who should not be parents – either because they have way too many of their own issues, or they just choose not to and as such would not be able to give a child everything that child would need. Those people, I truly respect for knowing their own limitations. But to those people out there who find the need to live self-involved lives while telling others that their desire to live a selfless life is wrong – please, please stop. Children need parents who are capable of meeting their needs, who are supported by the "village" in which they live. They don't need parents who are beaten down from all sides.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chef

      Nancy – Well said. Thank you.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • kerry dragon

      Nancy You are a hypocrite. You're appalled by the judgement of others but in the same breath you criticize those who choose not to have a child with your snide backhanded observation. .You think people who choose to be childfree dont " want to do anything but have experiences, to live life only to please herself/himself is probably more selfish. What good are you doing for others? Are you willing to risk everything for another person? " Then you backtrack with that you "respect people who SHOULDNT be parents.
      Are you serious? Its that mentality that keeps women down. We are not only great mothers, but also great scientists, doctors, lawyers, CEOs etc etc. We are not defined ONLY by the products of our uterus. We are not defined by a process that all living beings like amoebas, cows, and rats undergo. Why is having a child necessarily "risking everything for another person? Why is risking "everything for another" necessarily a noble thing? Did Mother Teresa not give enough of herself with what she did because she didn't have a child? Are women who can't have children incapable of being heroes?

      At least the other judgemental comments were direct. Your attempt to be sneaky by preaching your own agenda in the guise of asking for compassion for those who choose motherhood is glaringly obvious. So get down off your soapbox and leave the judging to the wise one upstairs.

      December 15, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
  31. Chef

    Kerry Dragon – I read your thoughtful post and I change my mind. You are right, not everyone that chooses to be childless by choice is being selfish and I agree that women who are childless can be heros...though I doubt many of them are comparable to Mother Teresa. Thanks for your own thoughts on the topic and I found your post more insightful and intellegent than all others who spewed such hate against women who want to be mothers and struggle to concieve.

    December 15, 2011 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Nancy

    Kerry Dragon –
    I think there must have been a disconnect in what you understood and what my intention was.

    First – I never did any sneaky preaching.
    I was upfront and honest in my opinions.
    I stated clearly what was MY experience and what drove ME to become a mother.
    I also clearly delineated the people that I was aiming my statements to "The person who does not want to do anything but have experiences, to live life only ot please herself/himself is probably more selfish."
    i never once stated that people who choose not to have children and go on to do wonderful things with their lives – as your example, Mother Theresa (who in fact did selflessly put herself at risk many times while caring for people suffering from infectious diseases) were any less noble. They are amazing heros – people whose example I have absolutely no hope to emulate. But they are people who are doing something for others – they are not living for the next vacation or the next party or award. They are doing the "dirty work", usually behind the scenes, that truly help another person. By "risking everything" I was, obviously very ineptly, attempting to say that noble people see outside of themselves and give to another past their comfort zone.

    Here are some things that I took away from reading other comments which I was addressing –
    1) People who have the drive to procreate are selfish if they choose to spend money to achieve a pregnancy.
    2) People who are infertile should just "get over it"
    3) People who are infertile should just go out and adopt because it is a cure for infertility
    4) Women who choose to seek out motherhood and see it as a noble calling are "keeping women down"
    All of those viewpoints "keep women down" because they keep each woman from being satisfied with her personal attempts to make a difference in the world – rather it be from being a doctor, a nurse, a garbage collector, a waitress, or a mother. Each person has the ability to make a difference in the world.

    When I wrote about people who "should not" be parents I used the wrong words. I was speaking about people who have looked deeply within themselves and determined that they are unable to provide for the emotional or psychological needs of a child for some reason. These people have chosen to recognize the needs of a potential child. They have given of themselves by recognizing their own limitations and seeking out ways to serve in other capacities.

    The only "agenda" I had when I wrote was that people should be serving others in whatever capacity they choose, but they need to be contributing to the good of others and not just themselves, and women should quit saying that those who choose motherhood as their way to serve are dragging other women down.

    December 15, 2011 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kerry dragon

      Nancy, there is no disconnect. I called you out because your post's first sentence described how appalled your were at other people's judgement for a certain lifestyle ( wanting motherhood ) then you proceeded to judge people who dared to want, how did you describe it? " only have experiences" People who choose to be childless are " more selfish and dont want to do good or risk everything for others." These are your exact words.
      Then you try to vindicate yourself in your 2nd post with, " I also clearly delineated the people that I was aiming my statements to "The person who does not want to do anything but have experiences, to live life only ot please herself/himself is probably more selfish." How can you not see how judgmental that sentence is? Do you understand that to NOT JUDGE, is to not " delineate" AT ALL any group of people for any lifestyle they choose? Live and let live and dont worry about how other people choose to live their lives. Then maybe you wont feel the need to justify your own choices.
      Preaching is not a problem. Being upfront and honest about your opinions is not a problem. Acting righteously indignant about other people's opinion, however, when you engage in the same behaviour is . It is sneaky and hypocritical.
      While I may have wondered if I misinterpreted your intentions before, your second post certainly removed all doubt. If you are truly surprised at my response, you should stop a moment and reflect on what you choose to post.

      December 16, 2011 at 08:23 | Report abuse |
  33. Sarah Torrens

    What an awesome story. Congratulations on your baby boy. We should all be thankful for everything we have, for we never know what obstacle or hardship will come our way. God Bless!

    December 16, 2011 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Nancy

    erry –
    Unfortunatley I am not surprised at your response, since you choose to not understnad what I am saying. There is no further need for me to try and explain. There would have been a time when I would have engaged you further, to try and come to some sort of understanding. But I have bigger battles to attend than someone who intentionally is misunderstanding what I am saying. Have a nice day.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kerry dragon

      Nancy, please understand its not me, but your writing (in) ability. I honestly think even you don't understand what you've written You have bigger battles, huh. I guess we'll see about that. But you have a great day as well.

      December 16, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
    • mark k

      agree with comments above about how people with cancer should reconsider passing on their defective genes to an already overpopulated world

      December 17, 2011 at 21:24 | Report abuse |
  35. michelle

    Sarah, Thanks for writing about this important topic. I too, am a cervical cancer survivor who was diagnosed at 26 and endured a recurrance at age 29. My daughter was born with the help of a gestational carrier as well. I just realized a memior, "How I Lost My Uterus and Found My Voice: a memior of love, hope, and empowerment." It has been awarded editor's choice and rising star awards. Please check it out and keep sharing!

    January 1, 2012 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. jesus

    lollolo

    January 4, 2012 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. bob

    wow cool

    January 9, 2012 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. bob

    wow cool for you

    January 9, 2012 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Samuel Getaneh Bogale

    What an incredible story – congratulations and thanks for sharing!

    January 13, 2012 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Lisa Raymund

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    January 28, 2016 at 02:20 | Report abuse | Reply

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