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Mother Loses Custody Because She Has Breast Cancer

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Alaina Giordano, a Durham, NC mother of two who is battling stage 4 breast cancer appeared on NBC’s Today Show on May 11, 2011 in hope that it would help her keep her kids, 5-year-old Bud and Sophia, 11.

Giordano, 37, was diagnosed three and a half years ago. She is amid a bitter child custody dispute and was told on April 25 by a Durham family court judge that the kids must live with her estranged husband because her medical condition is “uncertain”. He now lives in 600 miles away in Chicago.

Judge Nancy Gordon ruled Giordano’s estranged husband, Kane Snyder, 37, should get the children after a psychiatrist recommended they should live with him because of the “deteriorating condition of the mother’s health.”

On "Today," Giordano said the judge’s ruling was “outrageous”. “ I think it is a dangerous ruling for me and my children and how it will affect us, but also for people all over the world with cancer. This is a bad precedent."

The judge ruled that because Giordano does not have a full-time job and cannot support the children, the father should get primary custody. If Giordano wants to be near her children, the judge says she should move to Chicago. Giordano is undergoing medical treatment at Duke University. She said her condition is currently stable and not progressing.

“My cancer treatment is in Durham. I have found a great medical team. It took me years to find this medical team. I am thriving in large part because of this team of doctors at Duke,” said Giordano during an interview with Matt Lauer. “And basically it appears to me that the judge decided my husband’s job was more important than my health.”

Giordano acknowledges her stage 4 breast cancer is incurable and has spread to her bones. "As far as the prognosis, no one really knows how long I'm going to live, which is the same for any person. Even my doctors don't know. Some people live two years, some people live 20 years, some people live five."

She also explained how her children are coping. "They know that I have cancer, they know that I go for treatment once a month now, they know that it's stable. They know me as mom, and it doesn't affect our daily life."

Who do you think should have custody of the children?
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EmpowHER Guest

This happened in Canada to our 41 year old sister – Monica Pomahac-Lansing, who died in 2005 after her ex-husband removed her children to another province. My brothers and I initiated legislation to change the Divorce Act in our country and in unprecedented fashion it received unanimous support in both houses of government and is now a law. Our hearts goes out to this mother. If you can, please watch this video of my sister’s ordeal:


This is a link to the law that was created based on my sister’s experience – I hope it will help.


May 17, 2011 - 8:33am
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