The blog world is currently involved in tearful delight over the story of a misguided teenage girl who discovered she had brain cancer, got knocked up, and refused to have treatment to save her own life, preferring to be a baby making machine, like her mother, who had 8 children. She died a few days after giving birth to a child who had a teenage father, who can’t support him. Instead, his mother is raising the baby.
If this were the story of a young minority woman in the projects in Atlanta, St. Louis, or DC, the discussion would not be about the young woman’s courage, but just another teenage mom, adding to the welfare rolls. Instead, the story is being spun that she is another Mary, giving birth to another messiah.
She is courageous for getting pregnant AFTER knowing that the chemo she was taking would harm any child she was carrying. She was not pregnant when she knew she had a form of brain cancer that allowed for a 30% survival rate beyond 2 years.
That’s a good survival rate. This day and age, when you are diagnosed with certain cancers, the idea is to get it stabilized and keep your fingers crossed. There’s a good chance, if you can beat it back for awhile, that a new treatment will come along to extend your life even longer. When I was first diagnosed with melanoma, 14 years ago, unless one had an early stage, as was mine, it was a death sentence. They basically have a cure, now. The same thing holds true of the stem cell cancer my aunt has. She was given a grim prognosis 13 years ago. Even with treatment, they told her she would not survive beyond a few years.
Jenni Lake had a half-way decent chance of surviving.
Sometimes there are stories that are disturbing on so many levels. This is one of them. Please pardon The Pink Flamingo for not being at all sympathetic to the plight of now departed teenage unmarried mom, Jenni Lake. I’m not. Maybe I’m just cold, but I don’t think women should be baby machines. The last time I made this statement I was barraged with mail stating that there was something wrong with me. I guess there is. I guess there is something wrong with me for thinking that there is more to life than having babies. There are some conservatives who think our primary goal in life, as men and women, is to people the earth. Good. Let them do it.
- What is wrong with our society where girls are now so pressured to have a baby that they go almost insane if they don’t?
- What is wrong with our society when a young woman would forgo her own life in order to get pregnant and have a child she knows will kill her?
- Oh, the story is spun about how courageous she was, but maybe she wasn’t.
- Was she even given a chance to survive?
- Did anyone bother explaining that there are improvements in cancer treatment?
- Does anyone even care that she was not even given a chance for life?
Jenni Lake was a minor. She was under the age of 18. She was told that, if she were to have chemo, she might be sterile. Interestingly, the proper term is infertile. She was NEVER given any alternative, such as freezing her eggs. Instead, when she learned that she might be sterile, as a minor, she went out and got herself pregnant.
Her story is alarming because this is NOT about a so-called mother’s love, but a teenage girl who, following the trend of other teenage girls, got herself knocked- up so she could have a baby. She is a courageous mother because she chose to allow herself to die in order to give her child life.
Why is that courageous? To me, it is horribly selfish. It is also blatantly dishonest for conservatives to praise the
suicide “selfless” sacrifice of a young woman who had a brain tumor that may or may not have effected the way she processed information and behaved. She should have had a viable adult to help make decisions, but evidently she did not.
Even more troubling is the possibility that our culture is increasingly limiting the value of women beyond baby-making. Jenni Lake should have been taught that there is more to life than making babies, and more to a legacy than leaving an infant for someone else to raise. She should have been taught that wanting to have a baby and reality are two different things. Somewhere along in her life, she should been given worth as a person and not just as a womb.
Those who are waxing poetic about her self-less desire to leave a motherless infant to be raised by another, should also consider the fact that she was not even mature enough to make that decision. She is part of a culture of teenage girls who think having babies will solve all their problems in the world – because they were not loved enough as children.
This tragic young woman was no hero. The most tragic part was the fact that the treatment she was receiving was working. When she discovered she was ten weeks pregnant she discontinued treatment, opting for
suicide the life of her child rather than her own life. The irony here is we don’t know what effect the chemo she was taking had already had on the 10 week old fetus. The first trimester is the most important time in a baby’s development.
Like I said, if Jenni Lake had been a different race, living in the projects in Atlanta, St. Louis or DC, or in LA, she would be criticized for bring another unwed child into the world. Because she was of a different race in circumstances just a little different, she is being praised.
I suspect, if she had opted for an abortion, she would be criticized by those on the far right who don’t even want an abortion to protect the life of the mother, and this was one of those circumstances. Instead, she is just another heroic mother, giving life to a child who must be raised by someone else, an irresponsible teenage father who could not even be bothered marrying her, and the possibility that the child will be raised on welfare. She could have opted to have a life of her own, but she had no one to help her understand that she had a future beyond breeding.
How many other young women are going to go down this path before we start teaching them that they are viable humans with self worth? This is the saddest part of all.
Jenni Lake deliberately went out and got herself pregnant to have a baby before she died – even when she was told that the tumors were shrinking. She deliberately cut off her life-saving treatment go have a baby. Why was there no responsible adult to step in and help the child make decisions. When a girl who is underage goes out and gets pregnant, just to have a baby, and is undergoing treatment for cancer – where are the courts? Where is child services?
By praising her, other girls will think this is just wonderful.
It is not.
We are dealing with a tragic young women here. It is quite obvious her mother was not a bit attentive to her, even when she had cancer. I cannot imagine a mother so disinterested in their 16 year old daughter that she did not find alternatives to the possibility of sterility. I am reminded of a woman I now who has a twenty-something daughter (L) who has battled ovarian cancer for several years. If she had opted for a hysterectomy, she would have been fine. Instead, she opted for chemo in order to have a child later in life, even though there is a possibility that she will be infertile. ‘L’ did not opt to die, which is what Jenni Lake did. She also did not go out and get pregnant. Instead, her loving parents drove several hundred miles, packed her up, and brought her home, where they could care for here. Even though ‘L’ is in her late twenties, her mother was right there beside her.
Contrast this to what we have learned about Jenni Lake. Her parents were obviously not all that involved in her care, and they should have been. If anyone had truly loved her, they would have forced medical issues, or demanded she be made a ward of the courts to receive proper treatment – which was working.
The drive for Jenni Lake to have a baby appears not to be about a self-sacrificing mother, but a seriously disturbed teenager who just wanted the unconditional love she was obviously not getting from her family.
Now – that is tragic.