This story really hit me in the gut.
A North Carolina mother with stage IV breast cancer lost her custody battle for her 2 kids, ages 11 and 5 this week, because judge Nancy Gordon stated “The course of her disease is unknown. Children who have a parent with cancer need more contact with the non-ill parent,”
Alaina Giordano age 33, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer 3 years ago and is currently undergoing treatment for her illness. Stage IV means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Curing cancer at stage IV is difficult, but not impossible. Lance Armstrong had stage IV cancer.
Her ex-husband lives in Chicago and works a full time 9-5 job. He will need after school care for the 2 school aged children. He has just moved to Chicago and has no family there. He moved because of his new job.
Alaina is not able to work, and cannot fly to Chicago to see the kids because of her condition. She is hoping that her husband flies her kids to her so she can see them. She doesn’t know how long she has to live. “If Giordano wants to be near her children”, the judge said, “she should move to Chicago as well”.
Move to Chicago? Away from her support system of friends that she’s had for years, and away from the Duke Cancer Institute doctors, some of the best in the world, that have been treating her for the past 3 years?
Illness has never been used as a legal reason to remove children from the home.”What the court has done is expanded the traditional understanding of what unfitness is.” said the family attorney Michael Cornacchia.
Does “terminally ill” mean “unfit”?
Many women live 5 or more years with stage IV breast cancer. And these might be the last years she will have on earth to be in her kid’s lives and influence them as her children. Her cancer is reportedly stable and not progressing. If she is currently being treated, and that is usually a sign that the treatment is working even if it’s working slowly.
We don’t know the whole story of this custody battle, and the mother is the only one speaking out right now as the dad has still to release a statement, but the fact remains that this mother’s breast cancer was one of the main factors in deciding the custody of her kids.
Could future parents lose custody of their kids because of other illnesses like diabetes and heart disease?
Her Facebook page is trying to spread the word and get help.
I’ll be watching this one.