Monday, January 19, 2009

Would You Risk Your Life to Have a Baby?

Today, I spent the day with my good friend Erin Zammett Ruddy, a freelance writer and a columnist and blogger for, and her son, Alex. As our children played together, I couldn’t help but think how lucky we both are – cancer survivors and moms. When we were diagnosed with cancer, the idea of future parenthood seemed so audacious and extravagant. We’ve both been asked on more than one occasion - shouldn’t you just be happy you are alive? Of course, we are happy to be alive! Aren’t you? But, just like you, we want to live amazing lives and, for us, that includes having kids. Erin’s story is unique. She had chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and for the last six years has been treated with Gleevec. The drug that saved her life doesn’t cause infertility in women, but you can't take it while you are pregnant. If you stop taking it, you risk the cancer coming back and the drug not working for you anymore. Quite a dilemma. With her oncologist’s approval, Erin went off Gleevec to conceive Alex and nothing went awry. Her cancer didn’t come back and Gleevec continues to work for her. So now, a year and half later, she is longing for another baby and wondering – do I risk my life again for a baby? As Alex plays with Paisley and Walker, it is hard for me to argue against it. I have two children – and want more. I get it. As Fertile Hope's Founder & Executive Director, it is also hard for me not to try to solve this dilemma other ways – IVF, surrogacy, adoption, etc. Erin’s done her homework on all of those options and knows they aren’t right for her (read more here). What would you do?


  1. I am impressed by both of your stories. Can't imagine what a difficult but ultimately rewarding and gratifying decision you made. In your experience, are doctors more apt to allow patients to temporarily go off a drug like Gleevec nowadays vs back when Erin was first diagnosed?

  2. Just wondering if you'd have any information on female cancer survivors who underwent high doses of pelvic radiation and now have uterine and vaginal scarring. The consensus seems to be that I'll most likely be able to GET pregnant, but maintaining the pregnancy and giving birth would prove very difficult, as both delivery methods are not recommended. The only resources I seem to find are those for egg/sperm donation, surrogacy, or adoption. I'm looking for other survivors who have had successful pregnancies with situations similar to mine. Thank you for your help.

  3. Congratulations to both of you! You are both so inspiring!!

  4. Good Morning.

    My name is Rhea Antonio and I am a fourth year doctoral student at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. I am conducting research on the impact of a prenatal diagnosis of maternal cancer and maternal experiences of parenting following diagnosis.

    The study is an online survey. The information obtained from this study will remain confidential and all survey responses will remain anonymous.

    I am writing to request your assistance in finding potential participants for this study. A participant would be eligible for this study by meeting the following criteria:

    • Participant must be a female between the ages of 25-45 years old
    • Participant has been diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy
    • Participant has delivered within the last 12 months
    If you have had this experience or know of someone who might be interested in participating in this study, please forward this email with the link below which includes the necessary steps to complete the survey. If you have any questions about this study, please contact me by e-mail at

    Thank you for your assistance. I wish you well.


    Rhea D. Antonio
    Doctoral Student
    Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology

  5. i instantly recognized erin from her glamour magazine several years back. it is so wonderful to see her so happy and healthy. i remember reading her story and thinking i couldn't possibly imagine being her in her shoes and also thinking how selfless it was for her to document her experience in the pages of glamour magazine. i also remember the sadness i felt for her and then also for her sister so it is great to see read about her now.
    when i was diagnosed with cancer she was one of the first people i thought about. her strength has helped me.

  6. Great Post.....

    I found your site on stumbleupon and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

    Thanks for sharing....