It's rare for dads to share their thoughts about miscarriages. This man did.

I remember the rainy winter night vividly. Our unborn baby was dead.

Three days prior to Christmas 2009, my wife and I lost our baby. I put on a brave face for my wife by saying everything will be OK, and I told my inner circle that we'll dust ourselves off and try again — but privately I was a mess.

I know that about 15-20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, but that didn't ease our immense pain.


Oftentimes the stories of miscarriages are shared through the perspectives of the women who experience them, and rightfully so. I didn't have to endure the physical pain and emotional pain that my wife and countless other women deal with.

But as a man, I want to share my version of the events to help others who are going through the same thing. The emotional pain and feelings of loss and helplessness following a miscarriage aren't something men talk about that often, but it was incredibly difficult for me. Simply put, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions during that time.

1. Sadness.

I didn't eat, I lost a lot of weight, and I spent a lot of my private moments in tears. I knew I had to move forward, but I didn't know how. Looking back on it, I know the main reason I was so sad for such a long period of time was due to not knowing if I should grieve — at least publicly.

I felt as if my role was to be the strong one. "This happened to my wife's body, not mine," I thought. "This can't be about me and my feelings." Society seemed to agree. Nobody asked how I was feeling. It was as if I was a bystander instead of an active participant in creating the child we lost. As the weeks passed, I fell deeper into despair.

If a loved one outside the womb died, I'd be given the green light to grieve. So why is it so strange for a man to grieve for a loved one who died inside the womb?

I couldn't keep up the charade for very long, and eventually the floodgates opened (which made me feel a lot better).

Embracing my sadness was hard for me to do, but things improved once I did. GIF from "Inside Out."

2. Anger and disgust.

I would hear stories of dads who have little to no interest in raising their children — and I would become enraged. How could someone father a child and not want to be involved in their life? Sure, many dads today are great — but I couldn't get the bad ones out of my mind.

It was almost as if the only way to rid myself of the rage would be to create a reality show called "Deadbeat Island." All the crappy dads of the world would be banished there to complete tasks like remembering their kids' birthdays or changing blowout diapers until they committed to being active fathers. But alas, that type of programming would never see the light of day.

Enjoy your stay on Deadbeat Island, buddy.

Some days were worse than others, but my main coping mechanism was to remember that it wasn't about the other guys. I would be the best dad I could be if I had the chance. That's what kept me going.

3. Fear.

When we became pregnant again, I experienced a level of fear that I haven't experienced in my lifetime. Every milestone was met with a brief sigh of relief followed by more intense panic.

"Whew! We passed the six-week mark ... but we still have to make it through the first trimester."

Every day there was something new to be afraid of — but mostly it stemmed from my fear of experiencing that devastation once again. It was like walking on an emotional tightrope for 40 straight weeks. My wife felt the same way.

From an emotional standpoint, this is what every day seemed like for my wife and me.

4. Joy.

After what seemed like the longest wait ever, I finally became a dad in January 2011.

You're looking at the happiest moment of my life.

I cried joyful tears, I laughed, I sang, I danced, and I completely lost my mind in excitement during that first day. The love affair only grew from there.

Sure, it's never easy waking up in the middle of the night to change diapers or soothe a fussy baby, but that's what I signed up for. I wanted the chance and I received it, and that made me very happy.

Being the best dad I can be for my daughter and her baby sister inspires me to be a better man.

My daughters are now 5 and 2.5 years old.

I wasn't the greatest guy before a became a dad, and that miscarriage was the wake-up call I sorely needed to improve.

Today I talk less and listen more. I give more hugs than handshakes. I'm less, "I've got it all together," and more, "We're all in this together."

Sure, I'm still a work in progress (aren't we all?), but I figure if I'm aspiring to be the best dad I can be for my daughters, why can't I aspire to be the best human being I can be for everyone who cares about me?

I don't have all of the answers, but I can state that my overwhelming passion to be a good dad stems from the fear that I'd never have the chance to become one.

I'm not naive. I know there are thousands of people all over the world who cannot have children. But once the chance to be a father was taken away during that December night, I didn't think about that. I think about it now, and my heart goes out to the families who encounter those challenges.

No matter your gender, please know that you're not alone. Riding the emotional rollercoaster of miscarriages can be easier if you know that others are going along for the ride with you.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I'll never forget the exhilaration I felt as I headed into the city on July 3, 2018. My pink hair was styled. I wore it up in a high ponytail, though I left two tendrils down. Two tendrils which framed my face. My makeup was done. I wore shadow on my eyes and blush on my cheeks, blush which gave me color. Which brought my pale complexion to life. And my confidence grew each time my heels clacked against the concrete.

My confidence grew with each and every step.

Why? Because I was a strong woman. A city woman. A woman headed to interview for her dream job.

I nailed the interview. Before I boarded the bus back home, I had an offer letter in my inbox. I was a news writer, with a salary and benefits, but a strange thing happened 13 months later. I quit said job in an instant. On a whim. I walked down Fifth Avenue and never looked back. And while there were a few reasons why I quit that warm, summer day: I was a new(ish) mom. A second-time mom, and I missed my children. Spending an hour with them each day just wasn't enough. My daughter was struggling in school. She needed oversight. Guidance. She needed my help. And my commute was rough. I couldn't cover the exorbitant cost of childcare. The real reason I quit was because my mental health was failing.


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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I'll never forget the exhilaration I felt as I headed into the city on July 3, 2018. My pink hair was styled. I wore it up in a high ponytail, though I left two tendrils down. Two tendrils which framed my face. My makeup was done. I wore shadow on my eyes and blush on my cheeks, blush which gave me color. Which brought my pale complexion to life. And my confidence grew each time my heels clacked against the concrete.

My confidence grew with each and every step.

Why? Because I was a strong woman. A city woman. A woman headed to interview for her dream job.

I nailed the interview. Before I boarded the bus back home, I had an offer letter in my inbox. I was a news writer, with a salary and benefits, but a strange thing happened 13 months later. I quit said job in an instant. On a whim. I walked down Fifth Avenue and never looked back. And while there were a few reasons why I quit that warm, summer day: I was a new(ish) mom. A second-time mom, and I missed my children. Spending an hour with them each day just wasn't enough. My daughter was struggling in school. She needed oversight. Guidance. She needed my help. And my commute was rough. I couldn't cover the exorbitant cost of childcare. The real reason I quit was because my mental health was failing.


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Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."