I was 20 years old when I made the choice to have an abortion. My boyfriend and I lived together, and he didn’t want our baby. He told me he wasn’t ready to have a family and asked if I would have an abortion. It was that moment I knew he didn’t really love me. I wasn’t strong enough to love or have my baby on my own. I was full of hopes and dreams for my own life, and I didn’t want my family to know that I failed. Back then I saw pregnancy and not being married as a failure.
The day of my abortion was one of the darkest days of my life. I was told my baby was just a cluster of cells, tissue, and could not feel pain. I stood on line with other women as though I were standing on line at a concentration camp waiting to enter an infirmary. When I woke up from my abortion, I was given a cup of tea and two Tylenol and told it would help with my pain.
Thirteen years later, my pain is greater than anyone will ever know. I have lost my baby, my ovary, my breast, and I may lose my life — all in the name of choice. But I embrace having breast cancer, having battled the disease while pregnant with my third child. Breast cancer, pregnant and bald with one breast, made me define my dignity. It gave me the strength to love a child I never knew I had to love. I miss my baby, and I regret my abortion.
The brightest day of my life was when I could finally admit that I am the mother of three beautiful children.
Charnette Messé has shared her story on the Oprah Winfrey Show and in Rosie magazine. She is currently writing a book about her battle with breast cancer during pregnancy, A Brilliant Performance: A Mother’s Battle with Breast Cancer and Pregnancy Defined her Dignity in the World. She is founder of the awardwinning greeting card company, Charnette Messé Embracing Life, and The Dare to Dream Dance Company