A major player in one of the most contentious child custody cases in the nation's history has died at the age of 38. The woman, whose children were taken from her because her cancer made her too ill to care for them, passed away with her kids by her side in late May, according to reports.
The case caught national attention in 2011 when the woman was forced to surrender custody of her children because of her illness. According to reports, the kids, ages 12 and 6, were said to be better off with the woman's ex-husband, largely because her breast cancer made her too weak to care for them.
The woman, a freelance writer, could not leave her physicians in North Carolina because they were administering an experimental drug that kept her stable and alive. However, her ex-husband took a job in Chicago, saying it was the only one he could find in this depressed economy. To everyone's shock and dismay, the judge in the case ruled that the two children had to go with the woman's ex-husband, writing in a particularly insensitive ruling that there was "no telling how long she'll live."
Even though the woman was sick and struggling financially, her family members, friends and community rallied around her to help her visit her children frequently. She even got a temporary apartment in the Chicago area, traveling back and forth between there and North Carolina for her cancer treatments. Those close to her said that the transient lifestyle she lived likely put physical stress on her that may have worsened her illness, but the woman was reportedly just happy to be able to see her kids.
The original judge was even unwilling to change the custody agreement when the woman was admitted into hospice care. An emergency motion filed in Illinois court finally did the trick, and the woman was finally able to live out her last weeks with her children by her side, ending a long and dramatic legal and emotional saga.
Source: Huffington Post, "Alaina Giordano dead: Mom who lost custody because she had cancer dies at 38," Lisa Belkin, July 2, 2012