Well hello! Let me first introduce myself. My name is Chantè and I am a 36-year-old cancer survivor and a mother eager to complete my family through adoption. Here is a little bit about how I got to the survivor part of my story (buckle up, this ride is about to get bumpy).
How we met
About 5 years ago, I met a person that could tolerate my weird. J/K … I met Jesse, whom I had been waiting 31 years to meet. Ironically, we grew up in the same area, like same junior high and high school.
We never crossed paths until a friend in college introduced us on a blind date (yes, this was when meeting “in person” was still a thing) and connected over our love for animals and passion for life. After taking the plunge into marriage, we relocated to Denver, Colorado to complete Jesse’s education. I got pregnant and was blessed with a healthy strong son named Kai.
Something happened I never expected
While adjusting to motherhood and figuring out how to nurse, I begin to notice a sizable mass in my breast. I really didn’t think much of it in the beginning because, let’s be honest, there is all kinds of weird going on at that point, right? Anyways, fast-forward 4 months and I was officially diagnosed with stage 3 Breast Cancer. I seriously felt like the floor dropped out from under me. How could I ever manage raising an infant and fighting for my life?
To make matters worse, we had to figure out where to start treatment. If I started in Colorado I would need to remain there for an additional 1.5 years. Ultimately, we decided we needed to move home. We needed the extra support from family and friends to get through the road ahead.
So, Jesse and I made the hardest decision we ever had to make and that was moving me back to Utah to start treatment ahead of him. He would remain in Colorado for the 6 months to finish his training so we would have a solid job back in Salt Lake for him. Cancer treatment is expensive! But being apart was super hard and sucked on so many levels. There were points where I wondered “what were we doing” and “this is not how I planned my life!” But, the thing that always gave me hope was making sure we provided a great environment for little Kai to grow up in.
Ready to start treatment back in Salt Lake, we learned that my tumor was so aggressive that I was slated an equally aggressive treatment plan. Poison it (chemo), cut it (double mastectomies), and burn it (radiation) was what I endeared for 2 years. After many complications including a rare infection which left me with one pseudo breast for 6 months and 4 reconstruction surgeries, I was left with a shell of my formal self. I was faced with a decision, I could either wallow in self-pity or I could take charge of my life again. Clearly, I chose the latter. I chose to fight for this life and was determined to not let it go to waste. That’s my survivor story which leads us to the adoption part.
During all that stuff, I also went through In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to preserve some embryos so we could realize our dream of raising one more kiddo alongside their brother Kai. Side note, IVF is usually recommended prior to chemotherapy as this treatment is good at killing cancer cells, but it is also common to cause sterilization, which would prevent us from having more children.
With the hopes that I would be able to carry a pregnancy after chemo, we were crushed when our oncology team advised me against carrying a pregnancy due to the increased risk of cancer reoccurrence. Making this decision to selfishly not carry a pregnancy has been really emotional and challenging but the one light at the end of the tunnel has been the thought of adoption.
But the good news is…
I have since completed my cancer treatment! Yay! Life is starting to fall back in place and in fact we made our roots permanent in Salt Lake by buying a home. It’s a charming historic home in a neighborhood full of kids up by the University of Utah. Jesse landed the job we hoping for at the V.A. of Salt Lake as a Lab Director and I have been able to remain involved in managing my family’s local business. We enjoy spending time together hiking, biking, skiing and traveling. But nothing we would love more than to provide Kai with a sibling and realize our dream of two kiddos.
Together, we have so many life lessons to teach another kiddo and would love to continue this crazy-beautiful journey with someone considering this adoption gift. Please share our story and help us find that special someone to join our family.
If anything, I hope that this story provides some inspiration to never give up on your dreams. When one door closes you go to the next! It is through life’s struggles that one can build character and truly find oneself. We greatly appreciate your time and look forward to meeting you soon. All the best!
Chantè, Jesse and Kai Christensen