Magnolia Grace

Our daughter Magnolia Grace was born 12-1-2011. Late in life parents, this was something neither my husband nor I had thought we’d ever experience. From the moment we met her, we were goners, head over heels in love. Our bubble of bliss was short-lived. On our first day home, we learned that a mass discovered on my Fallopian tube during my emergency C-section was malignant. My doctor hadn’t been worried about it at the time, so we hadn’t worried either. Now we were worried.

The following days were a blur of tests and consultations, along with a wide range of emotions: disbelief, fear, anger, sadness, and everything in between. I alternated between crying in fear over possible outcomes, and crying with joy and gratitude as I gazed at our incredible little girl and her amazing father.Soon thereafter, I had a radical hysterectomy to remove all of my reproductive organs. The exploratory surgery revealed that the cancer had spread significantly and metastasized to other organs, including my other Fallopian tube, both ovaries, my uterus, my colon, and parts of my abdomen. It was staged as Stage IIIC. That was the bad news. The good news was that my oncologist had successfully removed about 98% of the cancer. And the hard core chemotherapy regimen I’d be undergoing was designed to eradicate the remaining 2%. Given the type and staging of my cancer, I was given 50/50 odds of survival.

If I said I wasn’t alarmed upon hearing the prognosis, I’d be lying. I started treatment three weeks after my surgery, and went through 24 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy over the next six months. I finished treatment in June 2012. Since that time, I’ve battled some pretty significant side effects of chemo, including joint and muscle pain, arthritis and neuropathy. Some days I feel like I’m 90, moving like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz when I get out of bed in the mornings.

I recently decided to get tested to find out if I got cancer because of a genetic mutation. I also wanted to know if my daughter was at risk. Turns out, I had the BRCA1 genetic mutation. Discovering I had an 87% chance of getting breast cancer in my lifetime, I elected to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. The physical and emotional recovery from this surgery has been rough at times, but I have no regrets.I believe our daughter chose us as her parents for a reason. She is a little girl with a mission. If it weren’t for her, they may not have found the cancer inside me until it had progressed much further. It may turn out she saved my life.

We can’t imagine life without this little girl. Having to fight cancer is a very small price to pay for her presence in our lives and on this planet. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 18 months and that’s what I’m going to continue to do, whatever it takes. Fight.