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:
http://www.thebreastsite.com/breast-cancer/pregnancy.aspx

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?

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