By Julie Deardorff, Tribune newspapers
May 13, 2011
After a North Carolina judge recently denied Alaina Giordano primary custody of her two children -- in part because Giordano has Stage 4 breast cancer -- according to ABCnews.com, the stunned mother turned to the electronic court of public opinion.
She started a blog urging readers to “Say NO! to CANCER discrimination!” A Facebook page supporting her plight has over 14,000 fans. And more than 75,000 people have signed an online petition to the governor called “Do Not Allow NC Judge To Take Alaina Giordano’s Children Just Because She Has Cancer.”
Tweeters, meanwhile, are overwhelmingly siding with Giordano, warning, “Beware this could be you!” and “Legal insanity!”
The case, already a bitter custody dispute involving 11-year-old Sofia and 5-year-old Bud, is both heartbreaking and messy, involving claims of abuse and cheating.
But Giordano says her husband, Kane Snyder, has made cancer the key issue. On her blog, Giordano said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2007. Though it has metastasized, monthly treatments have kept it in check.
In August, Giordano says Snyder moved to the Chicago area for a job at Sears Holding Inc., leaving her with the kids. But Giordano said Snyder sought custody of their children, arguing that he had a job – she’s currently unemployed -- and Giordano's health was uncertain.
Judge Nancy E. Gordon agreed, according to ABCnews.com, which reported that she ruled the two children should move from their home in Durham to live primarily with their father in Chicago, citing both Giordano’s health and unemployment as factors, noting “the course of her disease is unknown,” and that “children who have a parent with cancer need more contact with the non-ill parent.”
Giordano, who on her blog said she was the full-time caregiver and called Snyder a “weekend dad at best,” argued that no one knows how long they will live. Snyder, for example, could get hit by a bus tomorrow and the children have no support system in Chicago, she wrote.“There are jobs in Durham,” she told Matt Lauer on the NBC’s “Today Show.” “I would like to see him move back.”
Snyder has said he can’t move back to Durham because there are limited job opportunities. Giordano said she is thriving in part due to her great medical team at Duke University and doesn’t want to change her health care.
And the children? Barring an appeal – Giordano is currently trying to raise money for a lawyer -- they’ll be living in the Chicago area, 600 miles from their terminally ill mother, starting on June 17, according to ABCnews.com. Snyder didn’t return a call for comment.
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