A mother of two sets of twins, Lauren Zlotky, courageously set her sights on beating breast cancer…and unlocked a passion for helping others battle the disease in the process.
by Julie Taylor | Contributor
When Lauren Zlotky found out she was pregnant with twins, she was surprised and elated. After years of miscarriages and several failed In Vitro Fertilization attempts, she and her husband, Jeff, were finally going to have a baby – make that two babies! Two years later, she was in for another surprise. After trying so hard for her boys, Ryan and Reid, she was shocked to find out she was pregnant naturally with another set of twins, and this time they were girls. “They are truly a miracle,” she says. “We were in shock, but we were also very excited and very happy to be able to have more children.”
Lauren says she was excited about the arrival of her girls, Kallie and Megan, but she was also very concerned about taking care of four young children. An important lesson she’s learned from parenting two sets of twins is that she doesn’t have to be perfect. “I think we get caught up on being the perfect parent, and we’re so hard on ourselves,” she says. “They’re not going to remember if you took them to every story time. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The little things you worry about really don’t matter.”
While her four children were very young, Lauren also owned and operated two companies – Quest Pro Consultants, an executive search firm, and Q Temps, a temporary agency – both in the insurance industry. After a few years of traveling and dealing with the stress of being a business owner, Lauren realized she was jealous of her live-in nanny because the nanny got to spend her days with Lauren’s children. “I knew it wasn’t worth it anymore,” she recalls. “I didn’t want to miss any more of their childhood. So, I sold my businesses.” About a year later, when the twins were six and three, Lauren was in for another shock. At the age of 43, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
When she found out she had cancer, Lauren recalls she said to the doctor, “I don’t have time for cancer! I have four kids under the age of six! You have to get rid of this!” Although breast cancer ran in her family, Lauren was stunned when she received the diagnosis because she had tested negative for the BRCA gene which checks for genetic mutations that cause cancer. Luckily the fast growing cancer was was caught early, and over the next year Lauren was able to go through chemotherapy, radiation and finally surgery. “I had a great network of support,” she says. “My husband, his family, my parents and my brother were all there for me.” She says throughout her treatment her husband, Jeff, was her rock. “He was calm as I was going through it. He was trying to be strong for me. Both of us are positive thinkers, so I think that helped.”
During the treatment, Lauren’s children were so young they didn’t fully understand. “I think being a mom of four young kids really helped me through my cancer treatments,” she says. “They kept me busy. I didn’t have time to think about it; I just lived my life the best way I could. Now Ryan and Reid are 14 and Kallie and Megan are 11. The children are involved in a variety of activities, which keeps the family really busy.
Lauren is a dedicated volunteer for “Heroes for Children”, a charity that advocates for and provides financial and social assistance to families with children going through cancer. “Heroes for Children means so much to me because of what they do for families with cancer. I realized I was so blessed not to have any financial hardships while going through cancer treatment that I wanted to support families who are not only dealing with a very ill child but are also often losing half their family income due to one parent quitting their job to be with the sick child.”
“I don’t have time for cancer! I have four kids under the age of six!” – Lauren Zlotky
HEROES FOR CHILDREN
Heroes for Children advocates for and provides financial and social assistance to families with children battling cancer and is founded in memory of Taylor Anne Brewton and Allison “Allie” Leigh Scott, who both passed away from Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Taylor passed away at just 4 years old after enduring 11 months of cancer treatment. Taylor’s family started a non-profit organization called Taylor’s Angels in her memory to provide financial assistance to other families with children battling cancer.
Allie passed away from the same disease as Taylor at the tender age of 8 months 27 days after three rounds of chemotherapy, 80 blood transfusions, and a stem cell transplant.
In October 2004, Larissa Linton (Taylor’s mom) and Jenny Scott (Allie’s mom) met, soon after the death of Jenny’s daughter Allie. The need for Heroes for Children became evident to Co-Founders Larissa and Jenny after they recounted not only the devastating effects of childhood cancer during their daughters’ treatments, but also the blessings they each received from their community. Unfortunately, they each saw many other families struggling without the aid and care of others. Families were losing their homes, having their electricity shut off, and struggling to make everyday payments. Together, they saw a need for a more comprehensive organization and formed Heroes for Children in December 2004. It was the desire of these two moms to serve other families battling childhood cancer. “Our vision is that no family with a child battling cancer will fight alone.”
For information or to donate or volunteer contact: HeroesForChildren.org.