By Jen Rachman
At age 26, I was living my life, self-sufficient, secure and independent. I took care of myself physically and emotionally. Life was nearly perfect, until the routine trip to the gynecologist that wound up saving my life.
When you hear the words, “you have cancer,” there is truly no way to be prepared to absorb all that comes with it. My now unstable life became filled with terms like prognosis, oncologist, surgery, treatment and chemo. Suddenly, my secure sense of self became unraveled and presented me with a new identity – cancer patient.
My oncologists’ main goal was to rid me of cancer as quickly as possible. The recommended course of action when diagnosed with ovarian cancer is to have a complete hysterectomy. I was only 26 therefore the idea of parenthood wasn’t even on my radar yet. But suddenly the idea of losing my ability to bear children was becoming a harsh reality. Not willing to relinquish the option of one day having children, I stressed to my doctors how important it was for them to make every attempt at preserving my fertility. Over the course of 7-months, I endured three surgeries, and six rounds of chemotherapy. Cancer took my hair, put my body in menopause, left me feeling twice my age, and made me infertile.
As time passed further from my date of diagnosis and it became less scary to invest in the idea of leading a longer, healthy life, my thoughts about future began to change. My then boyfriend and I were married in 2005, and after several years we became comfortable exploring the idea of having a family. I had come to accept the loss of my fertility and began exploring the options. I reached out to my oncologist and other survivors I saw as support about surrogacy and adoption. It quickly became apparent that there was a lack of information about surrogacy.
We met with an organization called Circle Surrogacy, and immediately felt comfortable trusting them with guiding us through this process. The entire experience felt “right,” as I believe this is the way we were intended to become a family. Our surrogate is truly an amazing woman who we felt connected to from the start. The day our boy was born was truly the best day of my life. It was as if all the struggle and loss caused by cancer had been undone. Or perhaps more so, solidified the reason for the journey. Through my son’s birth, I realized my experience with cancer and surrogacy brought me a greater sense of purpose. Utilizing my 12-years experience as a social worker, I now coordinate surrogacy outreach to the cancer community.