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After undergoing 16 rounds of chemotherapy for breast cancer, Lily Lorenzo-Luaccs was told she would need to have a hysterectomy. In her early 30s, this Latina had to grapple with the decision of risking her life in the future if she choose to have children.
Q. After surviving breast cancer treatments and going into remission, doctors told you had the BRCA gene mutation and recommended a hysterectomy, what were your initial thoughts?
As a woman, a Latina, I had always dreamed of getting married and having a family but you never think you will get breast cancer and life will change that dream. At the same time, I knew I had lot more to do in life and I didn’t want to take the chance that my life would be cut short by another cancer/
Q. At the time, you were dating your now fiancée, how did he react to this news?
He was very supportive. He has a son from a previous marriage so he told me that we was fine if I couldn’t have children, he preferred to have me around for a long time.
Q. How did your family react?
They too felt that my life was more important than the opportunity to have children. While this is not what I wanted in life, you often have to deal with the hand you are dealt and figure out how to keep positive.
Q. You mention being positive. How did this play a role throughout your journey with breast cancer?
I will admit I wasn’t always positive but my driving force is that I didn’t have another choice. I wanted to live, so I knew I would do whatever it took to survive. I also had great doctors and a wonderful support system to keep me going but it was hard to walk around bald, but I did it.
Q. What would you tell other Latinas who might be facing the same challenge you did with not being able to have children?
I would tell them that it is a huge loss when the reality of what the doctors are saying hits you. Like anything, you go through the stages of denial, anger, sadness and then finally acceptance. It pushes you to find some inner strength you didn’t think you had. It forces you to realize that you are more than just flesh and bones with breasts and a uterus – that you are so much more. And yes, all these things are part of you but the do not define you. If you have them removed, you are still the same person with the same soul and the same dreams. You just have to adjust your dreams to fit your reality. Remember those who love you want you to live and that is the most important lesson you need to learn. While you may not be able to have children, you can find ways through adoption, surrogates, nieces and nephews, to give that love to other children who need it too.