{YML Voices} I Beat Cancer, I Can Beat Infertility!

Editor note: Today’s guest post is from my good friend Shanelle. She is one of the bravest people I know. Here is her story of how she beat cancer twice, all before the age of 30. 

by Shanelle Smith

I have always loved babies and I imagined myself being a young mommy. When I was 12, my sister had my first niece and when she brought her home I loved her from first sight. She was my “niecey pooh.”

I always thought I’d go to college, find the love of my life, get married and have a baby…or babies. :) It has not happened that way, not because I have not found my soul mate but because cancer entered my life in 2010.

After going to the doctor’s for a swollen neck, I learned that at 25 I was up for a battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that attacks your white blood cells. I was not afraid; I knew what I had to do. Cancer was coming at me and I was going to beat it with a baseball bat.

So I geared up for a six-month battle with cancer. I spent my Fridays at chemotherapy and my weekends getting better so I could get back to my career on the following Monday morning. My doctor informed me that I would have no trouble with fertility, it would return a few months after chemotherapy. It did.

I won that fight, I beat cancer and I thought I was done. I had a big celebration.

The celebration lasted a few months until I felt a lump in my neck. This time I was scared, this time I knew it would be harder to beat cancer. This time I knew six months of high dosage chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant would save my life but prevent me from giving life.

This last battle took away my fertility. It has been nearly a year since my bone marrow transplant and my fertility has not returned. I see so many of my friends become young mommies and young daddies daily. Heck, I can count 10 babies that have been born to my friends on Facebook.

I know I am not alone in this experience. More and more young women are dealing with cancer. There are options for us but they are not affordable. I could have frozen my eggs, but that would have cost me nearly $15,000.

It will still cost me $15,000 to find an egg donor and for in-vitro fertilization IVF).

I did not write this for people to feel sad for me, I wrote this because I want young women who are struggling with infertility to know, you are not alone. One in eight American couples will experience infertility, and 1.1 million women will undergo IVF this year.

I hated hearing, “Shanelle, when are you getting pregnant?” I felt embarrassed. I will not take ownership for what cancer did to me; my infertility is not my fault. Women who experience this are not flawed. We can still be Moms; we’ll just take a nontraditional path.

Young women—be empowered by knowing your options, do your research and find support groups.

Now when people ask when I will get pregnant I just urge them to donate to my baby fund!

 Shanelle Smith is an organizer for the Ohio BlueGreen Alliance, which seeks to build Ohio’s green energy economy, creating good jobs while making our state more sustainable. 


  1. Wow…I’m speechless…this brought tears to my eyes. Such a brave lady. I’m thankful that you are using what came as a difficulty in your life, to inspire others. Praying the best for you :)