But then, there is an entirely different kind of heartache know only to Moms who lose a child to cancer. A different type of heartache that I cannot even begin to imagine. Meet Simone:
I never met Simone, but I did have the privilege of meeting her Mom this week, and now I know who Simone got her strength from.
Jennifer (name changed) and I met on facebook in March, thorough an IVF abroad group. We were corresponding about the same clinic in Prague that I tried to go to this summer. She recently had an embryo transfer, and received a BFN (big, fat negative). I noticed her profile picture had a little girl with no hair, and was obviously battling cancer. But as I continued to look at her profile photos, I saw this:
Tears immediately began flowing and I messaged her, asking if she lost her daughter. Yes, she was diagnosed with leukemia at 11 months and we lost her at 26 months. I'm shattered without her. This was her first message to me. What do you say? What can you say? I mustered what I could.
Me: I cannot imagine. I just cannot. When did you lose her? What can I do to help you or honor her?
J: Finally got the courage to try IVF because I do want another. Struggled feeling like I'd be replacing her and finally got okay with it after praying and believed she would send me a message that I should go on and have a baby and nothing but a big failure...
She had done IVF at a clinic in Prague very recently and had just received a BFN (big, fat, negative). She questioned doing IVF again, and wondered how much more heartache she could take. Her first two daughters were conceived naturally. Now she was searching for IVF, in case her or her husband's genes contributed to her daughter's leukemia. She seemed to feel better when I explained that for my first IVF we transferred 3 embryos and none of them took. And for my second, two.
Just because one embryo didn't implant, didn't mean that the next would fail. I urged her to try again. I suggested trying my doctor, but never imagined that she would actually consider making the 2,000 mile trek out here.
She wanted an over-the-phone consultation, and my doctor was able to get her in that very next week! And much to my surprise, she decided to come out here and transfer one AA grade embryo with PGS testing and assisted hatching. I was so surprised to get this message from her the day after her consult:
I can't believe the randomness of you and I connecting on FB and you reaching out about your clinic and doc and literally like 2 months later I'll be transferring there!!
Neither can I! I want so much for her embryo transfer to take. I feel partially responsible for her coming here and spending $9,000 instead of just a few thousand in Prague (plus travel expenses). If it does not work I will feel horrible but if it does work, I will definitely know in my heart that us meeting was not random.
I offered for her to stay at our place, but she had a family member here in the area. After work earlier this week, I picked her up and we went for dinner and talked for hours. Like a good date, I didn't want the night to end! She told me about how her daughter was first diagnosed, and how she did not spend a night at home for the next 83 days. I didn't realize that when newly diagnosed, children literally live at the hospital.
Over our conversation, I made a commitment to do some volunteering with children who have cancer in the future. Not just to honor Simone and her Mom, but because my Mom never felt sorry for herself when she had cancer. Why? I still remember verbatim what she said: "I've had a good life. But there are children who have cancer. Children."
Childhood cancer is seriously underfunded compared to many other types of cancers, and yet finding a cure and better treatments for innocent children should be a top priority.
My new and dear friend transferred her embryo this week and is back home now in the dreaded two-week-wait. She will likely test early, and I'll update here with a comment when we know. I feel a bit privileged to be one of the few people who knows that she did IVF. Even her family member that she stayed with while out here in California does not know, and neither do most of her friends. She does not want them knowing in case it doesn't work. I'm praying that it does.
Visit Super Simone's facebook page.
Click here to order Simone's signature Blue "boo" Angel nailpolish and bring awareness to childhood cancer. Item is currently out of stock, but more are on order.