For many young women, treatment for breast cancer can impact fertility and the ability to start a family the ‘old-fashioned’ way.  Rethink’s National Needs Assessment found that younger women are very concerned about the impact of treatment on their fertility, but many are not receiving proper attention for it.  While the biggest problem remains that not all women are given the option of referral to a fertility specialist prior to treatment, there are also gaps in information, education, and support for other family planning methods such as surrogacy or adoption.

Rethink continues to try and fill these gaps by pioneering cutting-edge programming for issues such as fertility, and raising awareness for young women diagnosed with breast cancer that while their fertility could be impacted, there are steps they can take to help keep alive the dream of becoming a parent. Our hope is that sharing Janelle’s story about becoming a mother inspires people to see that even when things seem hopeless, there is still hope, including options of adoption and surrogacy.

We want to wish all the moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day, past, present, and future.

For more information on breast cancer and family planning support please contact support@rethinkbreastcancer.com.

Janelle’s First Mother’s Day

us three-Janelle Blair (2)
Janelle with her mother and daughter

I have always felt so lucky on Mother’s Day.  Lucky to have a mom who has always made me feel so special and loved, someone who reminds me that everything will be OK when life is rough, and shares in my joy when life is good.  I think about the women I know who have lost their moms and appreciate how blessed to have mine with me.

When I was diagnosed with early stage Breast Cancer five years ago, fertility preservation was not top of mind. The doctors didn’t seem too concerned with it and I was too overwhelmed to think beyond my treatments.  I underwent a lumpectomy, six rounds of chemotherapy, and radiation. I was always hopeful that I would recover and be able to have a child one day.

Three years after my treatment ended, my husband and I decided to try to have a baby. My oncologist sent me for testing to assess my fertility. After reviewing the results, the fertility specialist told us that it would be very difficult for me to conceive. It seemed so unfair that after everything I had been through I may not get to have the baby I wanted so badly. My husband was more optimistic: difficult, but not impossible, he reminded me. So we tried. I took my temperature every morning and began seeing a Chinese medicine doctor every week for fertility acupuncture. A few months later, to our complete surprise, we found out I was pregnant! After all my body had been through I was a little amazed it was going to do this for me. After so many years of unpleasant doctor’s visits to discuss cancer, it was so nice to sit in a waiting room with other pregnant women to talk about a new life that I was carrying.

photo credit lee weston
Janelle and Zara. Photo by Lee Weston

This past August I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl we named Zara. She is eight months old now, a little miracle with tons of energy and a huge personality.  This perfect little person I love more than I thought was ever possible. Not a day goes by that I don’t look at her and think of how blessed I am to be her mom. I pray that I will be as good a mom to her as my mom is to me.  I look forward to sharing my first my first Mother’s Day with my little miracle and my amazing mom.

Happy Mother’s Day

– Janelle Blair