Oh Baby! Do We Dare Go For #2? (Part I)

21 05 2009
Theo, October 2005, age six months

Theo, October 2005, age six months

Ever seen that list that shrinks pull out when you’re stressed to the max? It’s about the length of a medieval scroll and on it is the list of life’s biggest stressors — the ones that probably landed you on the couch in their office in the first place.

There are the life events that you can’t control — like the serious illness or death of someone close to you. Then there are the ones that you can control, the ones that are considered “happy” stressors — like getting married, buying a house, getting a new job — and yes, having a baby.

If the thought of becoming a parent has ever seriously crossed your mind, you are familiar with the barrage of questions that filter through your gray matter day and night — particularly when you can’t sleep. Or perhaps they’re the reason you’ve got insomnia.
Will I be a good parent? Can we afford it? Does this new creature come with an instruction manual?

When you’ve been identified as a carrier of a breast cancer gene (BRCA 1 or BRCA 1), there’s a second list of questions you have to answer — even more so if you’re a survivor. At the top of the list is this one:
Could a pregnancy trigger a recurrence?

When my sister, Julie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26, posed this question post-treatment, the doctors felt quite confident that it could — and discouraged her from considering the idea. But that was twenty-some years ago, and a lot has changed.

Conventional wisdom — based on the brave women who not only went on to have babies post treatment, but volunteered for medical research studies — tells us that survivors who go on to have a baby do not have a higher risk of recurrence than those who don’t. In fact, for some reason that the medical community cannot put its finger on, these women actually have a slightly lower risk of recurrence. Go figure. If you want to find out more, check out the study:

So, we have the answer to the first of many questions we need to answer, with brutal honesty, before we make our decision. Next up is perhaps the toughest question of them all:
Is it ethical?



7 responses

21 05 2009
Kerry Humphrey

Hi Amy – Great blog! This is going to be a big source of comfort and community for breast cancer survivors, families, and friends. Can you check the link for the recurrence study on the last blog, “Oh baby…” – it doesn’t show up on my screen. Enthusiastically yours, Kerry H. of the Breast Cancer Advocacy and Advisory Committee (BCAAC), Breast Oncology Program, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

21 05 2009
Amy Rauch Neilson

Hi Kerry! Thanks!
I will check on that link — I am trying to find the article in its entirety.

21 05 2009

Amy, you know I love the way you write, and you haven’t disappointed. Great job, great idea, again.
Love you!

22 05 2009
Carrie Neilson

Hey Lady, Thank you for the wonderful experience of reading my first blog. I love the comment on your shirt ” Yes these are fake, my real ones tried to kill me”. I could not stop laughing.

Keep up the (as always) good work.

Love Carrie

22 05 2009
Amy Rauch Neilson

Well, look at you forging your way into the new millenium! 🙂
Glad you laughed hard. I still laugh at that shirt when I take it out of the drawer. Laughter is indeed good medicine!

8 11 2012

Whomever is moderating comments, If I’m reading the later blog posts correctly, please just don’t post the comment I made above, I can’t seem to delete it myself. I should have read more before commenting, but I’m in recovery and have a 21 month old toddler distracting me. All I have to say is fuck cancer. Excuse my foul language, but that statement is the only time I use that language.

27 11 2012
Amy Rauch Neilson

Sorry you have to battle cancer. Yes, it sucks. Sadly as you probably read, Amy passed away May 6, 2012. This Thursday 11/29 she would have been 44 yrs old. But Amy truly believed that they are making progress on finding the right medicine to cure this aweful disease. Stay strong and keep up the fight. You have a 21 month old and he/she needs you to be here for him/her. Keep the faith!

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