Breast Cancer in the News
Alaina Giordano was fighting for the right to keep custody of her children despite having stage 4 breast cancer, but the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled against her.
Ms. Giordano is legally bound to pack up her kids, ages 6 and 11, and send them to live with their father, who now lives in Chicago. “As I write today, I deal with the difficult recognition that my children will have to live 800 miles away from me, until my appeal can be heard. In the wake of this legal decision, my children and I now must grieve the pending loss of each other,” she wrote in a press release.
The Chicago Tribune quotes Jeffrey Leving, the father’s attorney, “We hope the mother will be supportive of the children’s relocation process and not engage in tactics that are designed to influence the children in a negative manner. The children should not be put in the middle of the court process.”
Divorce and custody cases are never clear cut. There’s always more to the story that outside observers will never know. But we do know this much. Earlier in this custody case, Judge Nancy Gordon cited forensic psychologist Dr. Helen Brantley when she made her decision: “The more contact [the children] have with the non-ill parent, the better they do. They divide their world into the cancer world and a free of cancer world. Children want a normal childhood, and it is not normal with an ill parent.”
As disturbing as it is for a child to have an ill parent, it boggles the mind to think about the psychological toll of a forced separation while that parent is fighting for life.
The original order is still awaiting appeal, but the wheels are in motion and the children will be relocated before the start of the school year. Meanwhile, Ms. Giordano will be taking part in a clinical trial in the hopes that her cancer does not progress. The clinical trial is not available in Chicago and, according to Time, the beleaguered mom said, “I’m damned if I do, and I’m damned if I don’t. I’m forced to make a decision between seeing my kids every day and not living as long to be their mom.”
Alaina Giordano hasn’t given up on her fight with breast cancer or her fight with the legal system. Here’s more from her press release:
“I am receiving world-class care for my cancer here in Durham, with an amazing team of doctors at Duke. They, I believe, give me the best chance to fight my disease and to give me the quality of life I will need so I may commute to visit my kids. And, make no mistake, I will travel to Chicago to see my kids on a regular basis. They will benefit from the love and support of their mom — not just across the miles.
“Most importantly, they will know that I will continue to crusade for a successful appeal in my case, to keep alive the prospect that they may be allowed to return home, to Durham. Additionally, I hope to work hard to get laws changed, here in North Carolina and nationwide, to eliminate medical bias as a deciding factor in custody cases. My crusade begins today, and I hope my supporters who have numbered in the hundreds of thousands will now use their fervent energy to lobby for laws to be changed in their states as well.
“To my supporters, I must say that you have been, after my children, the brightest spot for me in an otherwise dark period in my life. This case has made my cancer battle that much more difficult, but I have awakened to get my treatments — and to face each day — because I love my children and want to give them everything they need. Thank you to those who have helped me draw strength from your encouraging words, and may we all be blessed with better days.”
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