By Erica Thomas, managing editor
CLAY — In life, we all must make tough decisions when we are faced with obstacles. Do I pay the power bill or go to the grocery store? Should I tell the truth even though it could hurt my loved one? We never know when we will be faced with making a life-changing decision, but we know that time could come at any moment. For one Clay woman, that time is now.
Tiffanie Morton is 29-years-old. She has never been married and has never had a child.
“I want to have a farm one day and grow vegetables and have a flower garden and have two or three kids and bring them up in church and have a Godly family and live the American dream,” said Morton.
“I’ve had a dream of being a mom for as long as I can remember,” she said. “I tried to do it all right. I didn’t rush it and I took my time.”
Less than a month after her 29th birthday, Morton found out her life was changing and that that dream may have to be put on hold.
“They found a mass in my lower digestive tract,” said Morton. “My birthday was Sept. 7 and on Oct. 2, I got the call that it was cancer.”
Morton said she had been suffering from symptoms for two years. She experienced digestive problems that wouldn’t stop, no matter what she did.
“I changed my diet, took probiotics and started taking better care of myself but the problems didn’t go away,” said Morton.
After losing her grandfather to cancer, just six months prior, Morton said the news was devastating.
“I’m in my 20s. It never for a second crossed my mind that it could be cancer,” she said.
“I just turned 29 and everything is just happening so fast,” said Morton. “That whole day is just a blur. Luckily, I had friends there that recorded the doctor. I recommend that for anyone going to the doctor to get important information.”
At this point, many young people would ask, “Why is this happening to me?” Especially after the doctors told her that the cancer she has is rare for people her age. But not Morton. In fact, she started looking on the bright side.
“I don’t question God and what His greater plan is,” Morton said. “I think a lot of good is going to come from this, it’s just going to be a tough battle.”
Just when she thought the news couldn’t get much worse, Morton heard the words that would change her life forever. The chemotherapy and radiation she would have to undergo would compromise her fertility.
“I didn’t cry when I found out how bad it was, I cried when they told me about the risk to my fertility,” said Morton. “That is when I broke down. To take away my dream … that would almost destroy me.”
With little time to spare, Morton was forced to make a decision. She knew she wanted to do all she could to preserve her eggs. So, against the advice from family and doctors, she began fertility drugs.
“I have had to wonder if we have enough time … if I have enough time to wait to take the hormones and harvest the egg cells or if I take that time to do it, will the cancer progress to stage 4? I am taking that risk because I do want to be a mom,” explained Morton.
After having a chemotherapy port implanted into her chest, Morton began to give herself daily injections to increase her chances of one day having a child of her own.
“I just get done what needs to be done. I don’t dwell, I don’t fret. That’s just the kind of person I am,” she said. “I am always making new goals and chasing new dreams.”
But those dreams come at a cost. Morton will have to pay thousands of dollars to harvest her egg cells. She also learned that once she starts chemo, she will be unable to work at her job as a dog groomer at Dog Stop in Trussville.
“The only thing that kind of does get me down is once I start chemo, I won’t have a good immune system … That means it wouldn’t be safe for me to groom anymore and that breaks my heart,” she said. “My clients and every dog I put on that table are like family to me.”
For the egg retrieval medications, Morton received a grant to help cover the costs, but she is counting on her faith to take care of the rest.
“Applying for the grant was my way of putting it into God’s hands because my oncologist and my family were not happy about me prolonging treatment,” she said. “But when I got the grant, I felt that was God’s way of telling me it was okay to push my chemo back.”
Doctors expect Morton to undergo two surgeries between chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She hopes to be cancer-free by her 30th birthday, on Sept. 7, 2020.
“It’s in God’s hands and I don’t fear death but I don’t accept death either,” Morton said.
If you would like to donate to help Tiffanie Morton, click here.
Dog Stop is also selling T-shirts to raise money for the cause.