One of the most difficult things I have had to deal with, being a breast cancer survivor, is the fact that I will not have any more children.

Originally, I had wanted three children. That was my “plan”. But, it’s like John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans”.

When I was first diagnosed, I searched every breast cancer website, tried to find any information at all that I could about having children after breast cancer. There was a ton of information, and most of it conflicting.

When I spoke with my oncologist about it, the message was clear. If I had no children, he might consider the option of me having a child. I would be high risk and followed very closely. However, since I already had two children, there was not a chance in hell that he would support me having a third.

You see, the kind of breast cancer I had thrives on estrogen. Obviously, when you are pregnant, you have a ton of estrogen in your body. The studies that had been done to that point had only been retrospective. In other words, they looked back at the charts of women who had gotten pregnant after breast cancer. Retrospective studies are not as reliable as prospective studies; where you decide what you are studying and then, follow your subjects from the beginning of the diagnosis, rather than just looking back at records.

In any case, a lot of these studies showed that there was no risk of recurrence if you got pregnant after breast cancer.  In some of the studies, it was even indicated that women who had babies after breast cancer lived LONGER than those who did not.

My oncologist pointed out that this could certainly be due to the “healthy mother” effect. In other words, only the women who were the healthiest after their breast cancer treatment were even able to get pregnant. Also, there is a chance that these women were not in the group that were ever going to recur.

The bottom line was, I had two healthy children. I felt terribly guilty about feeling so sad that I would not be having any more.

A lot of people don’t know this but, most women lose their periods when they are having chemotherapy. They are thrust into menopause. I was lucky in that this didn’t happen to me until the very end of my chemotherapy. Then, I was put on Lupron for three years (a shot in my ass every three months  – joy!). This kept my period (and, hence, estrogen) away until I was out of the “recurrence zone”. So, I was basically in menopause for over three years. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, you name it. This is just another slap in the face that breast cancer patients get to endure.

After that last lupron shot, I was lucky enough that my period came right back. This is apparently pretty rare. One of the upsides of me being so young at my diagnosis.

It was a double-edged sword, though. I was now physically able to bear children. Up to that point, I was upset that I couldn’t have any more and I really couldn’t. Now, physically, I could but, knew that I shouldn’t. It was a very difficult thing. I felt like it was just one more thing that cancer had taken from me.

I have to say, too, that I have been tempted over the years. All I have to do, though,  is look at my living children. Could I really risk having a recurrence and possibly losing my life to have another child, when I have two beautiful blessings already? The answer is “no”. I cannot.

I also think about all of the women I know who have had or continue to have trouble having even one child. Or, they have children but, have been to hell and back to have them. I’ve seen them have to chart their ovulation, get shots, take hormones, be terribly disappointed after failed IVFs. My heart goes out to all of these beautiful ladies. I hope that they all eventually get the love of a child that they dream of, whether they are born to them, adopted, or come in the form of a God child or niece or nephew that they are extremely close to.

I also constantly keep in my prayers all of my loved ones who have lost babies. There are two ladies, in particular, who I love so dearly, who have had to go through this too many times. I don’t understand why this is but, as with everything else, I try to remember that God has a plan, even though we may not understand what it is at the moment.  Sometimes the reason becomes clear to us at some point in our lives, later down the road. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I feel for those women so much. I have two children and it was difficult for me to go to baby showers, hear of a new birth, or even go into a Babies R Us for a long time after I realized that my child-bearing days were over. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for these women.

And, so, I reflect and focus on the positive:

I was lucky to have gotten pregnant with both of my babies as quickly as I did.  I decided I wanted a baby and, both times, I got pregnant right away.

I had easy pregnancies and enjoyed them immensely.  I am so lucky that I didn’t take them for granted. I would have had a lot of regret had I done that.

I have beautiful, healthy children. I love them more than I can even say. I thank God for them every single day. I know how blessed I am to have this time with them. I know many women who have died of breast cancer and left behind children. There but for the grace of God go I.

I also have two beautiful God Daughters, who I love with all my heart. One is named Nicole and the other’s named Gina Nicole. They add happiness and fullness to my life in many ways. I hope that I provide them with a positive role model and that they will always know that I am here for them, no matter what.

And, like anything else in life, time heals. I can now enjoy a baby shower, shop in the infant department, and be happy for pregnant women without a pang of sadness. I can’t wait to feel my soon to be born nephew kick in my sister’s belly. I look at my kids and are happy for each “phase” that they go through. I no longer wish for another child.

I know now that my family is complete, and exactly the way it was meant to be.

I hope that the women now going through similar experiences remember this. I hope that this helps them, if even just a little.