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!