ELBURN – Elburn resident Kristina Hughes has always dreamed of becoming a mother.
When she and her husband, Marcus, got married six years ago, they couldn’t wait to start their family in the hopes of having three or four children.
But just a little over a year after their son, Logan, 2, was born, Hughes found a lump in her breast. With no family history of breast cancer, she wasn’t overly concerned, and was shocked to learn through a biopsy that is was malignant. She was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at just 27 years old in August 2018.
While Hughes, now 28, and her husband were devastated by the cancer diagnosis, she said the worst part was knowing that their dream of having a large family was all but shattered. In addition to chemotherapy and radiation, Hughes’ treatment plan includes an anti-estrogen medication that will not allow her to become pregnant for at least 10 years.
“This was not what we wanted or expected,” Hughes said. “Having cancer is one thing, but we wanted to live the life we’ve dreamed of and being a mom was what I always wanted. It was hard. If I had to get cancer, I wish it was when I was older.”
While coming to grips with the reality that they most likely would not have more children naturally, they began to consider adoption, which Hughes said can be very expensive.
“We feel 100% confident that [adoption] is what we want to do. It’s a way for us to add to our family and to have the life we want,” she said.
Thanks to the generosity of the Andrew Weishar Foundation, their goal of adopting a child was made a little easier.
On May 23, the couple was presented with a $5,000 grant at Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center Delnor, where Hughes is being treated, from the family of Andrew Weishar, a young man from the Chicago area who passed away from colon cancer in 2012.
Hughes said all of the grant money will be used to help pay for adoption costs.
“We were talking with a friend and someone told us to look into [The Andrew Weishar Foundation],” Hughes said. “His dying wish was to pay it forward and help other young adult and teen cancer patients. We were touched by his story and his foundation. We told them that we wanted more children and how hard it is to go through this in your 20s. They told us they were touched by our story and wanted to provide us with a grant.”
Shannon Brown, Hughes’ social worker at Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center Delnor, wrote a letter to the foundation to nominate Hughes and her husband for the grant. She said that she has been working with Hughes since her diagnosis and felt she was very deserving.
“[Hughes] didn’t want her diagnosis to stop her from having a big family,” Brown said. “It’s difficult to go through treatment for any medical issue, but being so young, she deserves to reach her life goals and this is her life goal. It was nice to be a part of this and I’m excited to see this become real for them as they start this [adoption] journey.”
Hughes, who will complete radiation this summer, said her prognosis is good and that she and Marcus are ready to “close the door on cancer.” They’re now looking forward to welcoming a child into their home, which Hughes said could take up to two years.
“I’m very hopeful and excited for our future. I’m ready to get [treatment] over with and not have doctor’s appointments and more tests,” she said. “We want to enjoy life, and I think we have a different outlook now because of what we’ve gone through. We feel so fortunate for each day. I’m ready to enjoy the time I have with my husband, son and future child.”