Cancer changed Danielle Santiago’s life, but she won’t let it limit her future.
Danielle was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at just 31 years of age. Less than a month later, she received a double mastectomy, with direct-to-implant reconstruction. It was four days before her 32nd birthday.
Fertility: From anger to options
In a follow-up with her oncologist, she learned that the best treatment to prevent the cancer from returning would throw her into menopause, and she would be unable to have children for at least five years.
Devastated and angry, Danielle felt the cancer was taking away all of her choices as a woman. Then her oncologist suggested she freeze her eggs and see Dr. Avner Hershlag, chief of human reproduction at North Shore University Hospital.
At first she was too hurt to consider the option, but Danielle eventually made an appointment. She was amazed by Dr. Hershlag’s compassion and his work to help women seeking to freeze eggs for medical reasons. She thought about it and returned to hugs from Dr. Hershlag and nurse Jenny Cutolo.
A beacon of light
“I've never been so happy. I learned to turn what I considered a negative experience into a positive one, and I want to help others do the same,” Danielle says. She and Dr. Hershlag walked the runway hand-in-hand at the 24th Annual Katz Institute for Women's Health Luncheon and Fashion Show.
“With everything happening so fast while on this journey it can feel so scary, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Danielle says. “Cancer cannot and will not define who we are.”