Breast Cancer

Survivor Story: Kommah McDowell Gets Fighting Chance at Motherhood

Imagine being diagnosed one of the most rare and aggressive forms of breast cancer, given a 5 percent chance to live and told having children would never be an option. Kommah McDowell, a southern California woman, was told just that. At age 29, McDowell was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, which is rare and very aggressive. It accounts for only 1 percent to 5 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,” McDowell shared. “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.”
McDowell 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” not only to live, but also to be a mother.
“My doctor told me that he would do everything to ensure that if I wanted to have children, I could,” she said. “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 they would have minimal exposure. “He was definitely giving a chance to live beyond this treatment, beyond this diagnosis,” she said.
To have someone truly believe in her ability to recover, and possibly have a child, despite the odds was life changing, McDowell said.
And it truly was life changing in more ways than one. McDowell and her husband welcomed a son, Christian, in 2010.
“He was worth the chemotherapy and radiation,” she said. “He was worth every minute of it!”
Sign up for the 92Q Survivor Soul Stroll, a breast cancer awareness walk May 13, 2017, in Baltimore.
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