«Me, multiple sclerosis and that (unfulfilled) dream of becoming a mother. I fight for other sick women” – WWN

«Me, multiple sclerosis and that (unfulfilled) dream of becoming a mother.  I fight for other sick women” – WWN

Of Maria Giovanna Faiella

The disease and the obstacles faced by the actress: from the diagnosis arrived twenty years after the first symptoms, to discrimination in the world of work, up to the denial of adoption due to the pathology. A common problem for many women affected by degenerative diseases and tumors

Having a child was her dream since she was little, but she had to give it up due to Multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. The pain he still feels is still strong Antonella Ferrari, as he also tells in the autobiographical book «In any case, mum. Story of a still open wound” (published by HarperCollins Italia and in bookstores from 27 October). But, beyond his personal storythe intent of the actress, who over the years has promoted various battles for the rights of people with disabilities, is shine a spotlight on the obstacle course to motherhood which unites many women affected by debilitating pathologies (like yours) or from a cancer
as if the illness were not enough: from the failure to communicate simple information such as, for example, the opportunity to freeze eggs before starting chemotherapy treatments or immunosuppressants, up to possibility to adopt a child
in fact often still denied due to illness


Diagnosis after twenty years

For Antonella Ferrari (as for many other patients) the path to knowing the name of her illness was also tortuous: the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, in fact, arrived in 1999, twenty years after the appearance of the first symptoms (information about the disease and symptoms here).
«At that time I didn’t have a boyfriend so the problem of having a child didn’t arise – says the actress -. Then, in 2004 I met my current husband, Roberto, and I understood that he could be the father of my children.”

Once upon a time, pregnancy was not recommended for people with multiple sclerosis
; over the years, thanks also to the progress of research, it has been understood that a woman affected by this disease can have children, indeed: today we know that during pregnancy, multiple sclerosis stops.
In 2009 Antonella and Roberto got married and would like to expand their family. But she is being treated with an immunosuppressant drug which cannot be taken during pregnancy. They talk about it with the neurologist, who approves the temporary suspension of the medicine. «I had, however, one serious relapse of the disease, which led me to stay a year in a wheelchair – recalls Ferrari –. I felt terrible and I had to gather all the energy to try to get back on my feettemporarily putting aside the possibility of having a child.”

Assisted fertilization: previously prohibited, now possible

The couple does not give up on the idea of ​​giving up having a child forever. Once the critical phase of the disease had passed, Ferrari asked for information on possibility of resorting to assisted fertilization. He recalls: «The neurologist denied it because, in those years, the assisted reproduction was still not recommended to women with multiple sclerosis, as the hormonal bombardment represented a risk. For me and my husband it was another blow. Today, however, it is possible, but I am no longer old enough to try.”

“They will never give her a child for adoption”

The path to adoption remains, but this too is blocked. Ferrari says: «The gynecologist told us “Try again to have a child in a natural way because they will never give a child up for adoption to her, who has a neurodegenerative pathology”. When I got information about the adoption, I got confirmation: another freezing shower. Yet thereto law (n.184 of 1983 which regulates foster care and adoption institutions ed

) does not set these limits
with respect to an illness or disability however, in fact, adoption has been denied to many women with multiple sclerosis or other degenerative diseases or even tumors, even if the pathology is under controlas in my case underlines Ferrari . The ones who advise against adoption in these cases are the Guidelineswhich perhaps is the time to update because, beyond my personal history, it wouldn’t work
denied the possibility of adopting a child to a sick woman
, willing to love and raise a child, even with difficulties. I hope that the institutions can intervene in this direction.”

“I am not my disease”, the battle for rights

It’s a battle that the actress wants to carry on for other women. Moreover, for years Antonella Ferrari, awarded the Ambrogino d’Oro in December 2022 (an honor that the city of Milan recognizes citizens who have distinguished themselves for their civic commitment), has been committed to the rights front. «I fought for the rights of workers with disabilities – especially those who work in the entertainment world – so that they are not discriminated against because of their illness, as happened to me, but can work because they have studied, acquired skills and professionalism. Me too

I struggled to work and
above all
in recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to get roles in dramas or films because, when I propose myself, as soon as they hear my name they don’t even give me an audition, because I’m “sick” . But I I’m not my illness, I’m an actress who studied a lot to do this job” underlines Ferrari, who in the past has acted in various television series – from “Centrovetrine” to “A Marriage” – and has held various roles in cinema and theatre, working with directors of the caliber of Pupi Avati.

Writing as therapy (and more)

The actress continues: «When I was denied adoption, I stopped fighting because I suffered too much, however I continue to hope that this doesn’t happen to other sick women. The first book that I wrote 11 years ago, “Stronger than destiny”, It helped me a lot on a psychological levelso I decided to use writing again also as therapy – continues Ferrari –. While I have made peace with Multiple Sclerosis, non-motherhood is still an open wound. I hope this new book is useful to many “non-mothers” so that they can find fewer obstacles on the path to motherhood, but also serve to help me metabolize pain of not having had a child, not even through adoption.”

October 30, 2023 (modified October 30, 2023 | 08:10)

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