“Hey y’all (in Kiyania’s southern dialect) and Yoooo (in Donald’s New York dialect) 

We are Donald and Kiyania Brown, and we are on a journey to parenthood filled with both heartache and hope. Our story is one of resilience, love, and the incredible power of community.”

Many people dream of becoming parents. But what if your ability to conceive and/or carry children is taken away by gynecological cancer? What if the efforts to prolong your life impact your ability to bring new life into the world? 

Although Kiyania was from a large family she didn’t have dreams of being a mom. She was young, dating, and very much enjoyed sleeping in late, or traveling spontaneously! 

Then in 2015 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had surgery to remove one ovary. Suddenly she was faced with the possibility that she might never have children. She and DJ (Donald) were college sweethearts, early in their relationship. They were not engaged or married, and they were having to discuss whether they wanted to pursue fertility preservation! Her doctor shared the pros and cons, as well as the possibility that cancer could return and decrease her ability to conceive. They held off on a decision for about two years and then, in 2018, when she was 28, they harvested and froze 14 good, healthy eggs. 

In 2019 Kiyania had a recurrence and more surgery. 

In 2020, months before their wedding the cancer returned.

“May 30, 2021, I was set to marry the man of my dreams and start my life as Mrs. Don Brown! But, five months before the biggest day of my life, I heard the words that I NEVER wanted to hear again, “The cancer has possibly returned”. On top of all the emotions that come with planning a wedding, I also had to deal with the possibility of cancer being present in my body. It was not much longer that doctors confirmed my greatest fear.”

On Oct 18, 2020, I had an extensive 8-hour surgery where they removed cancer from my upper abdomen, abdominal wall, and the surface of my liver. In the process of this, my spleen and uterus were removed to prevent the possibility of cancers later surfacing in those areas. When they took my uterus, they also took the chance of me carrying our future babies. With this new reality, we painfully started discussing the possibility of surrogacy.”

During her cancer journey, she created her Facebook page, TEAL Sista, as a way to document her battle. Her experiences made her aware of the disparities that women of color face in our healthcare system. TEAL Sista became a place to document her journey, share her unwavering faith, and inform and teach others how to navigate and advocate their way through cancer, and now infertility and surrogacy.

DJ has always been by her side supporting her. 

He was an only child for almost 9 years before his sibling came along. He says he doesn’t want his child to grow up alone and would love ultimately to have two kids. They received word in March that they could begin the process of thawing and fertilizing their eggs. They have registered with an agency that will help them through all the contracts and legal procedures necessary for surrogacy. Their families are incredibly supportive and cannot wait to welcome a new baby (#babybrown2025). 

Currently, they are fundraising and hope to begin interviewing surrogates soon. 

Kiyania advises everyone on the surrogacy journey to “be prepared, do your research, and have patience.” She believes it will take a village to not only raise a child but also to conceive one. “Have a village because our village is really helping us emotionally, It’s very overwhelming to know that you can’t carry your child. Then there’s the financial burden too. So be patient and be encouraged that you’re not alone in the journey. Together, we can turn dreams into reality and bring new life into the world.”

Check out Kiyania’s Facebook group: Teal Sista

The Brown’s fundraising page:

April 21-27, 2024 is National Infertility Awareness Week

March is Surrogacy Awareness Month