Recently while watching my morning news shows I overheard the teaser for a story about a mom who lost custody of her children due to being diagnosed with breast cancer. Well of course this threw off my whole morning routine, because I just had to learn more details about this story. Apparently a mother of two in North Carolina had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer about three years ago. In early 2010 she and her husband split. He soon moved to Chicago to find gainful employment. After visiting court to decide custody of the children, the judge ruled in favor of the husband citing that the children should be with the non-ill parent. In this case this parent is 600 miles away.
My heart just broke. This woman looked relatively healthy, not quite frail from chemo treatments or her disease, but she is unemployed, living on child support and alimony from her ex-husband, and now her children are being taken away. I’m not quite sure what the judge was really thinking but who does this ruling really benefit? Without a stable income she can’t easily fly them back and forth from Chicago nor can she travel a lot with her illness. The children are going to be swept away from their dying mother. They won’t be together for those final moments with each other. Not just that but the children’s father will have to live with the guilt of having these children taken away from their mother when they need her the most.
I mean, can you even imagine at the age of 36 being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer only to find out that due to a disease that you have no control over, you will also have your children taken away.
As a mother is must be hard enough for her to know that she won’t be there for their milestones like college graduations, weddings and grandchildren, but now she can’t even be there for spelling tests and rifts with friends at school. Mothers fight so hard to do the best that they can for their children and this mother is fighting to keep hers with her for her final years.
I put the blame on the father, what kind of man leaves a woman with cancer? Isn’t that part of the sickness and health clause? So clearly he is not interested in what is best for his ex-wife and their children, but isn’t that where the laws are designed to protect us? This creates a whole new set of fears for me as a mother. Not only am I terrified of developing a life-threatening disease, but I am also fearful that my baby will be taken away because of it.