Monday, April 23, 2012

Week 40 - Chemo and Fertility

This post is inspired in part by Giuliana Ranic, TV Host/Personality who announced today that she is having a baby via a gestational surrogate after her battle with breast cancer. I am also inspired to write this by a handful of posts from various cancer forum's and blogs of women around the US that I've followed that have resulted in fertility issues because of cancer treatment. I think it's great the Rancic's already had frozen embryos to work with, but what about the women or men out there who didn't have that option?
Young adults should be more informed during initial diagnosis of their fertility preservation options or at least have very upfront conversations about their lack of options. FYI if you can't tell already, chemotherapy or radiation can cause a decreased or total lack of fertility.

This is personal, but I feel the time is right to share this with you. I would never share this without feeling empowered rather than defeated (which took a bit to get to). I was not told until the day I started chemotherapy that I was unable to save my eggs. I am not totally sure why the conversation never happened the first day I was admitted. I do recall being asked if I wanted talk about fertility with a social worker during my hospital stay - I said yes, but I wasn't really thinking it pertained to me and my cancer treatment. I was actually told by a nurse the day I was going to start chemo while sitting in bed that I was unable to go through egg retrieval because I was "too fragile" to go through a surgery without potentially dying in the operating room. I was also told I may have difficulty becoming pregnant due to my high dosage of chemotherapy. It was such a blow to me, fertility wasn't even on my mind yet. I would imagine other young adults going through cancer didn't realize you need to cover SO many more bases than you realize, particularly this. I should note I have no way of knowing my fertility "chances" until I decide to start a family.

Through later conversations with my doctor and realizing the larger problem at hand (living), I've chosen to not worry about this until I cross that bridge however it still concerns me. It concerns me because I also wonder if other women were in the same position as me. Would they have chanced a surgery to have the option of a baby or were the doctors thinking it was a moot point because it wasn't a viable option? Also, how diligent are doctors and social work programs at other hospitals in ensuring this is discussed immediately? I hope this post puts this at the top of people's mind because it's certainly a quality of life issue too. You should be informed of all the options immediately or before it's too late.

I applaud the women I've followed and have suffered loss or pain through their treatment and those who are discussing this topic more because it is very sensitive and important. I definitely feel more empowered because of them, so thank you!





8 comments:

  1. Wow Ash, Im trying not to cry as I read this post. I really commend you for being so brave to share this with world. I know it's been difficult, to say the least. I just think back to that day in the room at the hospital. I just wanted to erase that moment in time for you. I am glad you posted because I never really thought of this issue exception of women who went through cervical type cancers. I know you've really opened peoples perspective on cancer treatment and quality of life issues. Well be standing there with you in heart or hand when you cross the fertility bridge down the road when day. I love you and im so proud of you today.

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    1. Thanks Amanda!! You've beenso awesome about it and especially the day of. Love you!

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  3. It's a tragic thing to address, and usually at a horrible time when you're first diagnosed. I've had my eggs harvested and frozen, and under NOT adverse situation so I can speak that the process is time consuming (optimally takes weeks to mature and harvest) and the procedure/surgery isn't all that fun either. There are so many young women who are in the same boat as you, and probably don't even have the forethought to address this sensitive issue. I know how much this means to post this.. And there is so much love in your heart, I know that you will one day share it with a full family..

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    1. Thanks Pam! I know it happens so much more than people discuss, but at least its becoming easier to. I am hopeful, the odds are more in my favor than not, which has been the story of my life since this all happened, so I will try to hold ontothat and not worry so much! Thank you for being so supportive and for sharing your story too.

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  4. Not sure if this was on purpose or subconsciously, but you chose to address this topic during week 40-- the average length of pregnancy. I'm not normally superstitious, but this time, this coincidence makes me think things are going to work out for you.

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    1. Well thank you Shelley. I appreciate your optimism! :)

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