NC Mom Who Lost Custody Got Kids Back for Final Month of Life

Mom with cancer spent her last weeks with her children.

June 30, 2012, 8:48 PM

June 30, 2012— -- The North Carolina mother who lost custody of her children because she had Stage 4 breast cancer died this week at her parents' home in Pennsylvania.

Alaina Giordano, 38, was able to spend her final weeks with her children thanks to an emergency motion her lawyer filed in Illinois family court, according to the Giordano's Facebook page, which announced her death on Friday.

The ABCNews Medical Unit and ABC11 in Raleigh, N.C., interviewed Giordano shortly after she lost her custody battle and once she knew the cancer had metastasized to her bones. She was getting treatment in Durham, where she didn't have a job, but her husband moved the children, then 5 and 11, to Chicago.

"It makes no sense to take them away from me because you don't know how long I'm going to live," Giordano told ABCNews in 2011. "Everybody dies and none of us knows when. Some of us have a diagnosis of cancer, or diabetes, or asthma. This is a particularly dangerous ruling to base a custody case on a diagnosis."

The judge disagreed because "children who have a parent with cancer need more contact with the non-ill parent," according to ABCNews in 2011.

She launched a Facebook page in April last year, generating media attention and the donations she needed to visit her children in Chicago, according to friend Peter Kaufmann's message to supporters on the social media site. She even camped out at Facebook supporters' homes when she visited her children in Chicago until she was able to afford an apartment there.

"Alaina endured a transient lifestyle that could have truly taken a toll on her health," Kaufmann said. "But the power of being near her children and relishing every last moment of her limited time with them gave her strength and optimism."

When it became clear Giordano's death was imminent and she would need to spend her remaining weeks in Pennsylvania at her parents' home for hospice care, her lawyer's initial attempt to bring her children to her failed. An emergency motion worked, however, and they stayed with their mother and grandparents in Pennsylvania.

Giordano died on Sunday and was buried on Friday.

"She never complained once about her circumstances, and faced her mortality with unwavering bravery," Kaufmann said. "Alaina taught me so much about selflessness, in the truest sense of the word -- as nothing she did was ever about HER -- but all about her children."

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