Somewhere Down the Line: A Breast Cancer Survivor Muses on Her “Totsicles” Tucked Away in an Earthquake-Safe Freezer

By Meaghan Calcari Campbell

I never grew up dreaming about becoming a mother. You know that image of a little girl, swinging around a baby doll, cooing in a sing-song voice, practicing for when she becomes a real mom? Not me.

“When the annual “embryo storage fee” comes due, I write a check and think about it as an investment in a nursery, the “Just in Case” nursery.”

Before our wedding, now a year ago, we were at a standstill on the topic but wanted to give ourselves an answer before the “I do’s” were exchanged. So, Mike committed that he would stick with me if I never came around to wanting children, and we both committed to kicking the kid decision further down the line.

Totally workable.

Except that now, we are down the line.

Sort of.

After my breast cancer diagnosis and the blitzkrieg of doctors’ appointments and blood draws and biopsies and scans and insomniac nights spent awake crying and talking and crying, we decided to go for it. To harvest my eggs, freeze those embryos, and figure the rest out later. Even further down the line. We don’t know if this fast-growing cancer in my body is going to kill me this year, or next year, or in twenty-five years, or ever.

Meanwhile, each year, when the annual “embryo storage fee” comes due, I write a check and think about it as an investment in a nursery, albeit a very barren, icy nursery, the “Just in Case” nursery. And, as I regularly drive on a street that hugs the San Francisco Bay, I wave hello to our eleven embryos, our totsicles, tucked away in their earthquake-safe freezer, and scheme about getting Mike eleven onesies, or eleven Christmas stockings to hang on the mantle, or maybe just eleven lottery tickets. Because I’m still here and alive, down the line.

An excerpt from Agony and Absurdity: Adventures in in Cancerland, edited by Meaghan Calcari Campbell, Laurie Hessen Pomeranz and Robin Bruns Worona.

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The forty-one authors who tell their stories are members of Bay Area Young Survivors (BAYS). BAYS is a support and action group for young women in San Francisco who are living with breast cancer and were diagnosed before the age of forty-five. The goal of BAYS is to break the isolation of living with breast cancer by providing a community built on compassion, understanding, hope and inspiration.