By Heidi Stevens
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Cancer survivor Candace Marcela shares her experience of becoming a mother. Her road was neither simple nor conventional, but it’s a testament to the power of modern medicine and maternal instinct.
Candace Marsella was diagnosed with stage 1 cervical cancer in 2014. Her doctor recommended a hysterectomy, but at 39, Marsella wasn’t ready to give up her shot at pregnancy.
“They gave me a two-year window to either have children or get the hysterectomy done,” Marsella said. “It wasn’t even a question. I knew I would pursue IVF and go from there.”
The result, twin sons Evan and Lucas. Their path to becoming a family was neither simple nor conventional, but it’s a testament to the power of modern medicine and maternal instinct.
Close to 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Most cases are found in women under 50.
“We have a lot of patients who are able to maintain reproductive function despite cancer treatment,” said John Lurain, Marsella’s oncologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “We do everything we can to preserve reproductive function if we’re able to do so without putting a patient’s life at risk. And very often, we are able to do so.”
Lurain monitored Marsella every three months after her initial cancer diagnosis. After close to two years of cancer-free screenings, she was cleared to see a reproductive endocrinologist and pursue in vitro fertilization.
But first she needed a sperm donor.
“That’s not an easy thing,” she said. “You’re looking through this look book, basically, of potential fathers who aren’t really going to be fathers.”
She settled on a worthy candidate, and the doctors set to work extracting and fertilizing 15 of her eggs. Five embryos were created, and doctors implanted the healthiest two.