Brave Spotlight, Sseko Fellows

Pregnancy, Cancer, and Finding Purpose

Christina’s unexpected pregnancy was nothing like she’d ever expected. She shared her incredible story of strength with us and how her unlikely combination of cancer and pregnancy were part of her journey to discovering her purpose and passion…


My husband and I were planning a move from our home of New York City across the country to California when I unexpectedly found out that I was pregnant. While this wasn’t “the plan,” I was so excited!

The miracle of pregnancy and birth has been fascinating to me ever since I was little. When I was 11 years old, my best friend’s mom allowed me to be present during her birth, and as an adult, I was excited to have this magical experience for myself.

Little did I know, my pregnancy would be nothing like I imagined.

At my first ultrasound, the tech noticed something unusual about the size of my ovary and called the doctor into the room. The doctor took a look at the image and assured me that it was probably just a cyst and that they would “keep an eye on it.”

In the following months, I had lots of extra appointments and as my pregnancy progressed, my ovary kept getting bigger. I kept thinking the cyst would just go away one day.

Christina with her two girls

As my move across the country approached, my doctor said we needed to do preventative surgery to remove the cyst. She explained that the surgery would be just two hours long and very simple.

On the day before I went in for surgery, I went to my Oncologists office.  She had me sign paperwork for the preventative surgery I was to have the next day. I noticed that the paperwork for my surgery included removal of “cysts, endometriosis or ovarian cancer” – wait, cancer? That had never been mentioned to me before. I asked my doctor about it and she said it had to be on the form, but she was certain that wasn’t the case for me.

Christina and her husband with their firstborn

I was so nervous the morning of the surgery.  There was so much happening. We were packing, my husband was leaving the state in a couple of days for a new job, and I was about to have surgery.  I fell asleep, the surgery began…

… 9 hours later I woke up in the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt.

Through blurry eyes, I saw my husband next to me and tried to make sense of him saying “You have cancer.”

(He swears up and down that this is not what he said to me, but that’s all I can remember from those first moments after waking up.)

Come to find out, the doctor had made a small incision, removed the cyst and closed me back up as was planned. While I was still unconscious, the pathologist reported that the cyst was cancerous and they weren’t sure if it had spread. So my oncologist went back in and removed my right ovary and fallopian tube and then took a sample from every lymph node in my torso up into my aorta to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread.   

The weeks that followed were a painful daze as my body slowly healed from the trauma it had undergone in surgery. I was covered in bruises and could barely walk and had several people stop me on the street as they were sure I was the victim of domestic violence.

Christina and her firstborn

As soon as I was well enough to fly, we completed our move and a few months later I gave birth naturally to a beautiful baby girl.

My baby girl saved my life. If I hadn’t accidentally gotten pregnant, my cancerous cyst would have burst and spread throughout my body. We would never have known it was there in time.

Through this experience, I changed careers from being a high school teacher to a doula. I knew this field would allow me to share what I’d learned with other women going through their own unique experience of childbirth. In addition to that career shift, I also became a Sseko Fellow which allows me to create opportunities for women across the globe styling others and selling beautiful products. I love that BOTH of my jobs directly help other women and allow me to use my gifts and voice.

My passion in life is to help other women feel their power. Even in my early years, this was core for me, but Sseko has helped me really articulate my “why” which is:

“To create community to inspire others to be themselves and feel that they are accepted no matter what their passion is.” 

I think a lot of women who are drawn to Sseko have this desire or want to be part of a community bigger than themselves, specifically a community that is helping other women thrive.

No matter what your story is, or how you got the place you’re in, there’s a space in the Sseko community for you. Stop by and say ‘Hi’ on IG @thismamasgotsole and you can find me on my website: www.pugetsoundbirth.com


If you would like to step into the opportunity that Christina has as a Sseko Fellow, we would love to talk to you!

As a Sseko Fellow, you’ll be part of an incredibly supportive group of women, you’ll get to style and sell stunning fashionable products that make a difference in the lives of women across the globe, and you’ll earn an income for yourself and your family.

LEARN MORE or SCHEDULE AN INTERVIEW WITH SSEKO

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1 Comment

  • Reply Michelle Davis April 5, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Beautiful story, so glad we get to do this together!

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