Cancer Fails to Stop Dream of Motherhood

Monica Jones was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2015, at the same she was dealing with infertility issues. Thanks to one very special friend and support from the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, Monica and her husband Matthew had the best possible outcome:

Their daughter, Ella, now 2.

“We had tried to conceive a baby for more than five years, and we were about to begin in vitro fertilization (IVF) when I found a lump on my breast,” recalls Monica, who was 38 at the time. “Cancer could have been another major roadblock, but we were not going to give up on our dream of having a baby.”

Monica and Matthew’s healthy baby, Ella, was born on Oct. 1, 2016.
Monica and Matthew’s healthy baby, Ella, was born on Oct. 1, 2016.

Oncologist Erica Mayer, MD, MPH, partnered with Monica and Matthew’s medical team at Boston IVF, a fertility treatment clinic. Although chemotherapy was needed to treat Monica’s cancer, which could possibly damage her ovaries, she was given time for one more cycle of IVF medications. She then underwent egg retrieval surgery performed by her Boston IVF team, which resulted in the couple being able to make and freeze five embryos. Five days later, Monica started chemotherapy.

Ten months after that, as Monica was settling into adjuvant endocrine therapy, she and Matthew turned their focus to the next step in their fertility plan.

“The second she found out I had cancer, our friend, Heather Cote, had offered to serve as a surrogate and carry our baby,” says Monica. “At this point, we decided it was the best way to provide our unborn child with the safest possible pregnancy.”

Two of the embryos Monica and Matthew had previously frozen were transferred into Cote’s uterus in January 2016. A month later, they found out one of the embryos had successfully planted. During that spring and summer, while the three of them prepared for the baby’s arrival, Monica continued ongoing cancer care at Dana-Farber.

On October 1, 2016, their long wait finally ended as Monica and Matthew joined Cote in the delivery room for Ella’s birth.

“The best day of my life was watching our little miracle come into the world,” says Monica, “and the best year was that first one with Ella, as I recovered my strength and cared for my family.”

The couple’s friend, Heather Cote, offered to serve as a surrogate when Monica was first diagnosed.
The couple’s friend, Heather Cote, offered to serve as a surrogate when Monica was first diagnosed.

Shortly after Ella’s first birthday, Monica got another piece of news: Her disease had become metastatic. Under Mayer’s care, she soon began treatment with new medicines.

“We are grateful that there are many new and exciting therapies now available to treat metastatic breast cancer,” says Mayer, “which we hope will greatly benefit Monica and allow her to focus on being the best possible mom to Ella.”

These days Monica continues to come to the Susan F. Smith Center routinely for checkups, and so far her disease has been very stable. She concentrates on staying active, healthy. and planning fun daily adventures with Ella – now a thriving toddler who loves talking up a storm and playing with the family dog, Henry.

“If you give up on something it means you never truly wanted it in the first place, and I’ve never known Monica to give up on anything – ever,” says Matthew Jones. “She’s my best friend, an amazing wife, and an incredible mother to Ella. While cancer has been a chapter in our lives, it is in no way our whole story.”

And rather than worry about the next chapter, the Jones family is enjoying each page as it comes.

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