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Rachel's story: "My cancer struggle"

Mon 15 Jun 2009 In: True Stories National Library

"I had noticed some discomfort in my abdomen over the past few months… [the Doctor] examined me briefly then anxiously told me to make my way directly to radiology. "My ovarian tumour measured 280 mm x 120 mm and was larger than the radiologist's screen, which she bluntly me informed about. 'This thing is the size of a seven and a half month fetus!' she exclaimed in an almost excitable tone. So life for me, my loved ones and any unborn child changed forever in that moment." - Rachel Deane A survivor: Rachel Deane As a single 32-year-old gay woman, Rachel Deane thought she had plenty of time to decide whether or not to have children. But a shock diagnosis - her ovarian tumour was huge and would soon led to excruciating pain - meant she needed urgent surgery to remove both her ovaries and uterus. Modern gynaecology offered up a few options - ovarian tissue slices can be cryogenically preserved, or IVF treatment may produce a fertilised egg or embryo which a surrogate could carry to term. As a lesbian, Rachel tells that her situation is different from most others. "The choices around having children were harder purely because of my sexuality. I'm not saying that as a single straight woman the process is easy, because from what I understand, the process is very complex, expensive and takes a long time. But I was made aware by the fertility experts I consulted with that being gay meant I had zero choices of registered donors - at the time none would agree to donating to a gay woman. Surrogacy and medical ethics approval around that was unprecedented and therefore highly unlikely." In New Zealand's history, a gay woman has never been granted surrogacy, perhaps due to perceptions around them being 'unsuitable' to raise a child, Rachel points out. "Family law in this country - and most others - does not reflect the importance of these things. I hope that this changes, so I would be in favour of legislative reform in this regard. "I could point out multiple cases reported in the papers around the country every day of parenting that leaves a lot to be desired, I could give you my professional bio and put a case forward for being a great parent on paper, but when all is said and done, good parenting isn't contingent upon how many University degrees I have, how much money I make, where I live and whom I share my life with... to me good parenting comes from the heart, it's so many things but a willingness to share love and joy is a fundamental key. " THE ROAD TO RECOVERY Jodie    Matt Akersten - 15th June 2009

Credit: Matt Akersten

First published: Monday, 15th June 2009 - 11:37am

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