World-famous sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman was just 43 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, the same disease that claimed her mother's life the previous year.
Poised, confident, and always with an answer to complicated questions, Dr. Laura Berman looks as if she can handle any challenge that life throws her way, but over the last decade, she has been facing unthinkable heartache and tragedy.
In 2011, barely a year after the death of her beloved mother from cancer, and after seeing her oldest son Ethan through a fight against childhood leukemia, Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer. On February 7, 2021, she lost another son, Sam.
Dr Laura Berman at the 36th Annual Gracie Awards Gala in 2011 in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images
THE SEX DOCTOR
Laura is the woman with the answers for men and women with questions about sexuality, pleasure, and intimacy, she has her own radio show, and is a frequent guest on "Dr. Oz" and has her own show "In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman" on OWN.
The author of over 10 bestsellers, Laura was stunned when after a routine examination she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was 2011, and she was still reeling from the recent death of her mother -- also from breast cancer.
Laura's oldest son Ethan had had his own bout with cancer, childhood leukemia.
Laura's mother had been diagnosed when she was a toddler and told she had six months to live, but she fought her cancer with ferocious determination. She wanted her daughters, Jennifer 6, and Laura 2, to remember her.
She exceeded all possible expectations, and not only saw her daughters grow up, she saw them married, mothers, and incredibly successful in their fields, Jennifer as a urologist, and Laura as a sex therapist.
HAUNTED BY CANCER
And Laura had come through every parent's nightmare. Laura's oldest son Ethan had had his own bout with cancer, childhood leukemia that had come close to claiming his young life. Now it was her turn.
Laura underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and reconstruction, and was confident that she was clear of cancer. A delayed visit to her oncologist left her reeling. Laura was suffering from a particularly virulent form of breast cancer, HR2 cancer.
Laura's cancer was back, and the fight for her life was on again. But Laura Berman is determination personified and she fought the aggressive cancer, and won. Laura's sister Jennifer was tested for HER2 and was found to be clear of the gene.
Her battle with breast cancer offered Laura fresh insight into the difficulties so many women face after a mastectomy, with accepting their bodies and resuming a healthy and rewarding love life.
THE EYE OF THE STORM
And then it seemed as if Laura had finally won through the storms, to a time of tranquility. Happily married to Samuel Chapman, Laura was the mother to three boys. The couple had married in 1995 and welcomed Ethan in 1996.
The couple weathered the storms of Ethan's health challenges and welcomed their second child, son Sam in 2004, followed by their youngest, Jackson who was born in 2005 when Laura was 36 years old.
But the period of serenity was brief. Laura and Jennifer's father Irwin Berman passed away in 2019, after a long illness. A year after his death, Laura opened up about their relationship on Father's day 2020.
Laura wrote movingly about her complex relationship with Irwin -- a brilliantly creative man, who was nonetheless emotionally abusive -- and revealed that she had made her peace with her father and forgiven him before his death.
Sadly, the worse loss of all was just months away. On February 7, 2021, Super Bowl Sunday, her middle son Sam, 16, passed away from what is believed to have been Xanax laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Laura revealed:
“I went into his [Sam's] room because we’d been talking about an internship for the summer that he wanted to do, and he was on the floor, gone.”
The family is devastated by Sam's loss. According to Laura, her son had been struggling with the COVID-19 quarantine and had purchased what he believed to be Xanax from a drug dealer on Snapchat.
The Xanax was laced with fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. In the midst of her grief, Laura and her husband have reached out to other parents, alerting them of the dangers that can so easily claim their children's lives.
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