Fertility and MBC: Fostering and Adopting
In women who have had early-stage breast cancer, about 20-30% of them will go on to become metastatic, meaning the breast cancer has spread to another part of the body. Others, 5-9%, will be diagnosed as denovo, meaning, their first cancer diagnosis is stage IV, or metastatic.1
What does this mean for women who have not yet started their families, but wanted to? Or those who planned on adding to their families?
Impact of lifelong treatment
Being a metastatic patient often means lifelong treatment which can hinder your ability to have a child. This could mean conception or carrying a child safely to term. For some, pregnancy hormones can fuel cancer, and make it grow out of control. So even if you could become pregnant, it doesn't mean it is safe to do so.
This means, for a plethora of reasons, many MBC patients are faced with not only a crushing diagnosis but also their dreams of building a family taken away as well. Luckily, many patients are finding ways to fulfill their dreams of parenthood, despite their diagnosis.
In this article, I am having a candid conversation with Alicia, who has decided to go the route of fostering and adopting to build her family as she lives with advanced breast cancer. This is her story.
Hi and welcome! Please tell us a bit about your diagnosis.
I was originally diagnosed in 2016 with stage 2 IDC triple-positive breast cancer at age 27. Recurred in 2019 at age 30 as HER2- with metastasis to the liver, bone, and lymph nodes. As of December 2020, I also have lung metastasis and progression in the bone and lymph nodes.
You have decided to go the route of fostering/adopting to add to your family. How did you come to that decision?
We (my wife and I) came to the decision to adopt through foster care after being unable to have biological children ourselves.
Can you please share what the experience has been like?
The agency we’re through has been great and it’s been an overall great experience. Stressful with paperwork and getting the application work done, but no issues regarding being an LGBTQ+ couple. The agency did have to have a meeting about my metastatic breast cancer in order to approve our initial application and approve us to continue forward. At that time, I was stable with my diagnosis. I have been approved by my oncologist to adopt through foster care.
What has surprised you the most about the process?
The amount of paperwork and application time, but is understandable.
Do you have any advice for other metastatic patients who want to foster and/or adopt?
Don’t think you can’t because of your diagnosis! If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Go for it!
Adopting and fostering
There are various types of adoptions available, from Domestic to International, or Foster/Adoption, like what Alicia is doing. All states have different processes and requirements, especially when it comes to patients living with cancer, so it is best to contact an agency where you live for more information.2
Join our fertility forum and share if you have also struggled with expanding your family. We'd love to connect with you.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to share that on Friday, October 29, 2021, Danielle Thurston passed away. We know that Danielle’s voice and perspective continue to reach so many. She will be deeply missed.
Internal radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation used to treat breast cancer.