Amy, 28, Cervical Cancer Survivor
Cancer Treatment Received: Chemotherapy and radical trachelectomy
Relationship Status at Diagnosis: Married
Current Relationship Status: Married
Were you a parent at time of diagnosis? No
Fertility preservation and fertility support services are important to me because:
You need to keep hope and to do that you need to know you have options. Treating the cancer and saving your life is priority but your life after cancer is also very important.
At time of diagnosis, did you know that cancer treatment could affect your fertility?
Not initally, and not until I asked what all the possibilities meant. I made the decision right away that I was not going anywhere – this was not going to take my life. Deep down I knew that. I was more concerned with my fertility and simply said to them ‘but I haven’t had kids yet? I can’t have a hysterectomy…and what would radiation do to me…will I be able to have a baby after?’ The doctor was more concerned with my life and getting the cancer out – which is his job but he didn’t see that wasn’t my focus.
Do you feel you received adequate information and/or support regarding fertility risks associated with cancer treatment and fertility preservation upon your diagnosis? Why or why not?
I don’t think I received adequate information at first because it was so rushed. We had a very limited amount of time to make a decision on what we wanted to do (IVF, etc). I was relying on the little information I had from my nurses. While determining my treatment plan I was lucky to be referred to a doctor that believes in fertility preservation and I was able to have fertility sparing surgery.
If you were not already aware, how did you feel after learning about the possibility of cancer-related infertility?
I felt completely heart broken. I was 28, been with my husband since high school, married for 2 years and had just decided to go off the pill when symptoms started.
Briefly describe your life prior to your diagnosis (work, education, family, location):
Everything was going well, I had a new job, we had moved back to our home town to be closer to our families and built a little house. Just after our second wedding anniversary we decided to go off the pill and ‘see what happens’. We thought we were doing everything right by getting a house, getting married, getting our careers in order then thinking about starting a family. We had no idea all of that would be in jeopardy just a couple months later.
Did your diagnosis change your life or alter your plans for the future?
It made me really thankful for what I do have, my husband, my family and great friends.
How did your diagnosis impact your desires to become a parent in the future?
My diagnosis made us both realize how badly we wanted to have a family. It made us both regret why didn’t we try earlier, why did we wait but no one can predict what the future brings.
If you did undergo fertility preservation, please briefly describe your experience.
I went to meet with the fertility doctor having no clue what IVF even was. They can go in and get my eggs, make embryos and freeze them for later? Wow, that is amazing! I was in awe.
I didn’t know what my treatment was going to be but I wanted to take every precaution to spare my fertility that I could before it was too late. I had 1 month to do whatever I could.
In my IVF cycle we had many ups and downs. I was able to retrieve 16 eggs of which 8 fertilized and 4 developed. At first is was very discouraging but 4 is better than nothing, we thought. Right after I found out I needed to start chemo, naturally I panicked and wanted to try another cycle. The doctors said no, treatment could not wait. Once I got over the shock I did find great comfort and hope that I could do whatever I needed to do to get better, knowing those 4 embryos could be my babies one day.
Have you become a parent post cancer treatment?
Not yet…working on it!
What advice would you give newly diagnosed cancer patients who are facing the possibility of infertility?
It is so painful to hear and hard to understand but you have to keep hope. There are options for you and make sure you do what is right for you and get as much information as possible. Facing treatment is hard but remember you have to live first to become a parent later and if that is what you want than some way, some how you will be.
If you would like to add any additional information please do so here:
I am so thankful that I found Fertile Future and all that they have done for me. Not only the information and the financial support but just reading about and talking to someone who has gone through all of this. They helped me so much. They helped me keep hope that one day I will be a mom, some way, some how!
How did you hear about Fertile Future?
Luckily, my nurse wrote down a few fertility websites for me to look at, I am forever thankful that this was one of them.