The 2019 Metsquerade is Dedicated To: Lauren Smoke
In January 2015, at the age of 33, Lauren Smoke learned the joyful news that she was pregnant with her first child. Lauren was a music teacher at Bubbles Academy, where she taught and sang to small children and babies every day. Becoming a mother was a lifelong dream.
But the joy she and her husband, Ian, felt was soon dimmed when, a few weeks later, Lauren found a lump in her breast. On the day they saw the first ultrasound of their baby, Lauren and Ian also received the shocking diagnosis of her early stage breast cancer.
Upon further tests, Lauren learned she had Triple Negative breast cancer, a less common, harder to treat type of cancer. Determined to protect the health of her unborn child and treat her cancer simultaneously, Lauren began her treatment.
At 10 weeks pregnant, she underwent a lumpectomy to remove the cancer. When she reached the second trimester, it was safe for her to begin chemo, which she did at 16 weeks.
Even while enduring chemo and its side effects, including hair loss, Lauren focused on her son and a safe delivery. And on September 15, 2015, Nico Grant Smoke was born a little early, but perfectly healthy.
After Nico’s birth, Lauren continued chemo and then moved on the final phase of treatment, radiation. On December 24, 2015, Lauren completed her final radiation.
Lauren was able to enjoy the first year of Nico’s life, including planning his first birthday party. But in the fall of 2016, she learned her cancer was back as stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and she would be starting treatment again.
This time, her body didn’t respond to treatments, and Lauren passed away in April 2017.
She left Ian and her family with the gift of Nico. And for hundreds of other women with cancer, she was a voice of reason and hope.
After her initial diagnosis, Lauren joined online support groups for women who are pregnant with cancer. She gained comfort from speaking with women going through the same thing, and eventually, she was the one offering comfort and advice to women who were newly diagnosed.
As she learned more about metastatic breast cancer, how many women it affects and how little research it receives in comparison to other cancers, she began using her voice to educate and advocate.
She was brave in her struggles with cancer in many ways, but taking on this role of advocate for women in stage 4 and generously giving her time and advice to others while dealing with cancer herself was perhaps the bravest and most selfless act of all.