The Hardest Choice Cancer Forced Me to Make

My fiancé and I were lying in bed one night in the spring of 2005 talking about our upcoming wedding when he felt a lump in my left breast. He’s a doctor—he could tell something was wrong—and he immediately started pushing on my armpit. A few days later, on April 3, less than two months before our wedding, I learned that I had stage 2b breast cancer, and that it had spread to my lymph nodes.

I always wanted to meet my prince and get engaged—and now, this. I was the bride-to-be with breast cancer. I thought about postponing the wedding, but my doctors were pushing me to start chemo in a few weeks time, and I didn’t want to walk down the aisle with no hair or in a wig. I did go through with the mastectomy, three weeks before the May 28th ceremony, and I felt like cancer had already taken a piece of me—my breast, my sense of security in my body. I wasn’t going to let cancer take my wedding.

And so, we got married as planned. The day was joyful but confusing—my mother was running around telling people not to talk about my cancer, but I was getting the “pity look” from everyone. People wanted to know how I was feeling, and all I’d say was, “Go dance!” I didn’t want to talk about it.

But whether to postpone the wedding or not wasn’t the hardest choice I had to make—that came when my doctor asked if thought about freezing my eggs before starting chemotherapy. We were shocked when he told us that after my treatment, which would also include tamoxifen, there would be a 90 percent chance that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant naturally.

I was only 32 and I hadn’t seriously begun thinking about having children; I just assumed I would, that I had plenty of time. But I didn’t have time, and along with the cancer, that was another blow. I felt like, Here’s another thing that’s going to be taken away from me—my right to choose. It was devastating.


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