An Inteview with Kimberly Sauter

By Kara L.C. Jones

Here at KotaPress, we strive to offer support to anyone suffering the loss of a pregnancy or enduring the death of a child. We try to give extended support to parents facing subsequent pregnancies after loss.

In the following interview, it was my privilege to talk with Kimberly Sauter who is no stranger to grief as she battled with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and fought for her life in the early 90s. Now, at nine years cancer free, she and her husband have discovered they are pregnant for the first time! While this isn't a pregnancy subsequent to the death of a child, it is pregnancy subsequent to loss. The Beast of cancer robs us of so much, and Kimberly has found the parallel feelings of chemotherapy and morning sickness have thrown her for a loop she didn't expect to encounter.

To fight back and win this battle, too, she has started to take care of herself body, mind, and soul. One of her endeavors has been the creation of where she offers safe space for cancer survivors to explore whatever comes up for them as they move through pregnancy and child birth after surviving cancer.

Kimberly was kind enough offer her thoughts and insights to me in the interview and now with you, our readers:

Q. You mentioned to me that you had physical symptoms of morning sickness that brought back feelings of having chemotherapy. That must have been very scary. How are you dealing with it?

A. This was something that I had not anticipated, especially not 9 years after my cancer treatment. The fatigue, nausea, and concern for our baby's physical health as well as for my own, threw me back in time emotionally. I became so focused on every bite of food that I put in my mouth and my every thought and action centered around my fear for the health of our child. I became very
depressed and worried about whether we had done the right thing in attempting a pregnancy. I kept feeling like I was sick instead of focusing on the miracle that was unfolding. The turn around came when I finally focused back on my faith and when I made a conscious effort to emotionally reframe the situation. I also had to give myself permission to live my life for me as well as for our baby. This meant eating an ice cream once in a while and also directing some of my energy to activities that brought me joy. But by far, the biggest thing that helped was in connecting with others who had traveled this road before. Knowing others who had come through cancer treatment and who had gone on to become pregnant and to have healthy babies, gave me so much hope that this could be possible for us too! I searched for this support before we became pregnant but found that I needed these connections so much more now that our dream had become a reality.

Q. Were you worried that the cancer treatments had caused infertility? Is that common for cancer survivors? And if so, are people adopting as an option?

A. I was given fertility counseling prior to starting my chemotherapy and was told that infertility was a possible outcome from my treatment. At the time, I did not think that I would want a family so I did not proceed with the suggestion to harvest my eggs for preserving my fertility. Seven years later after meeting my soul mate and marrying, we knew that we wanted a family but a big question remained as to whether this was possible.

Cancer and cancer treatments can result in sterility. Sometimes this outcome is known at the time of diagnosis as with reproductive cancers that result in the loss of organs and sometimes the outcome is more unpredictable. This can depend greatly on the type of treatment, age of diagnosis, and also on how a person individually tolerates it. Another concern that I and others have had, centers around the fear of egg or sperm damage as a result of chemotherapy or radiation treatments and also the fear of reoccurrence or passing the cancer onto a child. If a woman's cycle returns to normal following treatment and she is able to conceive, these fears may remain. Because of these fears or infertility, adoption is an important and considered option.

Q. Have you encountered families through who were infertile resulting from cancer treatments? If so, can you say a few words about how they are using your site to process the loss of their own biological children and then celebrating the lives of their adopted children?

A. I am just getting started with my website and have mostly connected to date with people who have had a pregnancy following treatment. It is my hope as well, to connect with others who have adopted. I feel so strongly that these families have such an important story to share with others, whether their decision resulted from infertility or a conscious decision not to have biological

The diagnosis of cancer can be devastating enough but that, coupled with the loss of fertility, results in a second deep wound that needs to be grieved and mourned. I am certain that many survivors have questions, as I did, about their ability to adopt following cancer and about adoption in general. I hope to share the stories of people who have worked through their grief and who
have found the families that they desired with adoptive children. I believe that this will provide much needed support and inspiration to others who are just at the beginning of their "life after cancer" journey.

Q. You have a story on your site called "My Grief Doll" (also published here at KotaPress Loss section) where you talk about delayed grief. Do you feel that you had to process that delayed grief before you could be ready to try and have a child?

A. Most definitely and I think that accepting and dealing with my grief has been key for living my life in general. For me, the processing of understanding and healing from my cancer has been like peeling an onion. Many tears have come with the removal of each layer and just when I think that it is all handled, the next deeper layer surfaces triggered by a new life situation that I encounter. My pregnancy and reaction to my morning sickness is a good example of this. What I have thankfully found, is that each layer requires less time to heal as the onion gets smaller and smaller with the removal of the next layer. The first few layers were the hardest and required years for me to break
through and now each layer may only require a month or a week to resolve. I don't know if the pain of a traumatic event ever fully goes away but I do believe that we can heal from them, grow, and embrace life anew when we have the courage to be present in and to honor our grief. This is the gift that my Grief Doll brought to my life.

Q. Can you tell us a little about what an Intention or Grief Doll is?

A. A grief doll is an alternative form of journal writing that helps to externalize your feelings of sadness and loss. It is a doll that can hold your grief so that you no longer have to and I feel that it is an active and supportive process for healing that can be used alone or in conjunction with a diary.
It is easy to make and use a grief doll. Simply cut out two identical gingerbread type people from fabric and sew them together. This makes an un-stuffed doll. Cut or leave a hole open somewhere so that your feelings (wrapped in cotton batting) can be added. The doll will become filled over time with your sadness and hopefully at the same time, you will become less weighed down by your loss. I created the name "Intention doll" because I think that this technique can be used for other purposes as well such as, embracing gratitude or healing your inner child.

Q. What do you hope readers and writers find at What's your vision for the site?

A. I hope that visitors and contributors to this website will find inspiration and support for living life to the fullest after cancer. I know that in my own life, I have not wanted to be held back from my dreams. Many times it has been the fear of the unknown, fear of change, or fear of trusting again that has stopped me from moving forward in my life. I believe that through shared experiences and resources that we can breakdown some of these factors and can help one another see possibilities that maybe we couldn't see before. It has also been important for me to not feel so alone in my experience and to know that others have had similar feelings, doubts, and fears. I hope that this
will be a community full of empathy and loving support for survivors facing fertility issues.

My vision for is that it will become a safe and informative place for those seeking a family following cancer. I hope to provide a comprehensive list of links to current medical studies, on-line resources for pregnancy and adoption issues, personal experiences and email support contacts, and other inspirational stories about people who are finding new life after cancer. I also hope to promote personal growth and healing through the use of creative explorations and art therapy and to share examples of survivor's healing art. My own poems and collages have been a source of great healing for me and you can view some of my art here too.

If you decide to stop by, please consider sharing your experiences with us and sign our guestbook as we love to hear from others!

For details about grief and intention dolls, please see Kimberly's site at

Kimberly Sauter Biography
Kimberly was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 1992 at the young age of 26. Cancer was a wake-up call for her and resulted in a complete life transformation. In her pursuit of healing, she found her creative spirit and has since been exploring her feelings through the mediums of poetry, collage, drawing, painting, and writing. In 1999, she married her soul mate and is now living her dreams.

Kara L.C. Jones Biography
Kara L.C. Jones is a founder of KotaPress and a grieving mother who lost her first born son on March 11, 1999 at 4:47 p.m. She works toward healing by doing her own writing and offering poetry therapy consults to other bereaved parents. If you wish to contact her, please send email to

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