Written by Lilly Sharlow, guest blogger
My story isn’t an easy one to share but it taught me a valuable lesson – faith. Every pregnancy is different and has challenges but hopefully my story inspires others to trust in a bigger power and that no matter what, we as mothers will always fight for our children.
Since I was a little, my biggest dream was to be a mom. I was 25 when I got married and living in Cabo, Mexico as an English preschool teacher, I felt I had everything I ever wanted. As soon as I got married, the first thing I wanted to do was have children and fulfill my dream. So, one try and BAMM! I’m pregnant. The excitement was indescribable but that soon changed. My husband and I decided to wait until after our first appointment to announce the great news. Here we are, two happy newlyweds ready to see our baby but the doctor saw something a little weird in the ultrasound on my left ovary and thought something was off. She told us to come back in a week and to wait to tell our family since she wanted to confirm the baby was indeed ok. I was a tad concerned but I understood. Six weeks into being pregnant, she sent us to another doctor to get a special ultrasound and at this point I knew something was just not right. In a couple of hours, we went back to our OBGYN who told us I need surgery because it’s possibly an ectopic pregnancy and my health is at risk. At this point I wanted to just cry and question why this is happening to me. How am I going to call my parents and give them two announcements: that I was expecting but I needed emergency surgery in another country. Little did I know this was just the beginning of this journey.
On September 22, 2011 I went into surgery. The chances my growing baby would make it are 10% since I had to be cut open as a C-section surgery to get to the ovary in question. The surgery went well and after my recovery I went back to my OBGYN to discuss my pregnancy. I sat at the doctor’s office and my husband held my hand. Then the doctor said “The surgery was successful for the baby. However…” My heart dropped. She said they found cancer and it was very aggressive. I took a minute to digest the news but then she turned to me and said “You need to start treatment and your baby will not make it. You possibly won’t be able to have children.”
When I heard the news that I wasn’t going to be a mom I felt that my whole world ended. In my head I could deal with cancer but the fact that I can’t have a baby or keep this little human that saved my life was just something I couldn’t bear. I left that office with so much conflicting emotions. Why me? How can I overcome this? I needed to be with family and go back to the States to get other opinions. Four days post recovery, I was back. When I landed, my family was hugged me and showed so much support but no one wanted to say the word “cancer.”
I met with the best Oncologist-OBGYN in the Bay Area, who said I needed to start treatment right away and possibly get an abortion. At that moment, I felt a sense of peace and I strongly said NO. I remember looking at my mom and husband’s face as if I was crazy. I wanted to continue with my pregnancy and I knew I had to fight for this little human and that I had to have faith. I prayed, went to an eastern medicine doctor and followed his instructions, changed my food intake, and did everything I could in my power.
A couple weeks passed and it was time for some additional tests. The oncologist looked at me and I looked at her holding my tummy and said “I have faith that my test will be lower and I don’t need treatment.” I took the ovarian cancer test (CA125) and had an ultrasound. To my doctor’s surprise, it was indeed lower. The first battle God decided to put in this crazy journey was done. It was a high-risk pregnancy but my baby was ok and I continued my faith to fight for this little human. Little did I know another curveball was going to be thrown my way.
On May 15th, I was ready to meet this baby girl but I felt that something was off. Laying in the hospital bed waiting to meet this miracle baby that I fought against all odds for, I find out that my husband was having an affair. My heart sank and all the emotions caused me to have complications. I was quickly rushed into surgery to have a C-section. I was broken but luckily the baby and I were fine and when I looked at this baby’s face, I knew I had to be strong. I left everything behind at 26 years old with a newborn baby, still dealing with medical issues and starting from scratch as a single mom.
I felt so hopeless I remember just crying out to God and said “I don’t know what your plan is but, you are testing me! My heart is broken and my journey has been hell but you gave me the greatest gift and no matter how much you put me through I will always be in debt to you for giving me the gift of becoming a mom. So whatever it is, my focus will be on this baby girl and showing her how strong her mommy is.” I started working when my sweet baby was only 2 months old and built a career while focusing on becoming the best Mom to my daughter that I could be.
After all of this I do have a happy ending I PROMISE! I met my now husband that took in my daughter as his own. Now I have my beautiful 5-year-old miracle baby and now a gorgeous 19-week-old baby girl with only 1 ovary left and a somewhat “normal” pregnancy with taking cancer screenings every 6 months.
Looking back at my story, I still can’t even believe my journey but one thing I know is somehow through it all I was able to keep my faith and strength with God’s mercy and grace. No pregnancy is easy and everyone is fighting a battle during or after a baby, but we are all strong women and no matter what we overcome it for our babies and faith.