Imagine being diagnosed with one of the most rare and aggressive forms of breast cancer, given a five percent chance to live and told having children will never be an option. Kommah McDowell, a southern California woman, was told just that. At age 29, Kommah was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, which is rare and very aggressive. It accounts for only one to five percent of all cases diagnosed in the United States.
“This diagnosis was of course devastating and incredibly difficult to process – for me and my family,” Kommah recently shared with BlackDoctor.org. “I remember so clearly the doctor telling me that the treatment was so aggressive that I wouldn’t be able to have children. My husband and I wanted to have four kids, and that was very hard to hear.”
“I just remember thinking that this was it. This was my story and I decided I was ready to do everything in my power to survive.”
Kommah decided to get a second opinion at City of Hope, a comprehensive cancer center near Los Angeles. Immediately, she knew she was in great hands. Her radiation oncologist told her he wanted to give her a “fighting chance” to not only live, but also be a mother.
“My doctor told me that he would do everything to ensure that if I wanted to have children I could. That changed my life. To have someone truly believe in my ability to recover, and possibly have a child, despite my odds, was an incredibly comforting experience.”
The doctor told her he wanted to protect her reproductive organs “just in case” and during her radiation treatments they placed two screens over her reproductive organs so that they would have minimal exposure. “He was definitely giving a chance to live beyond this treatment, beyond this diagnosis.”
To have someone truly believe in her ability to recover, and possibly have a child, despite the odds was life changing, Kommah says.
And it truly was life changing in more ways than one. Kommah and her husband welcomed a son, Christian, in 2010, exactly two years after her final radiation treatment.
“My faith in God has increased greatly through my journey. As fired up as I was to start chemo and be rid of cancer, after my first treatment I was knocked down pretty hard. At that moment, I realized there was nothing anyone could say to encourage me to go on EXCEPT God. I had to know that He would be there to help me bear the pain and discomfort. I had to know that He would not give me more than I could bear. Without God, I would have given up! My faith was completely renewed and is now stronger than ever before.”
“He was worth the chemotherapy and radiation – he was worth every minute of it.”