Candace, 28 years old

Type of Cancer: Breast Cancer DCIS with Mircro invasion

Cancer Treatment Received: Full Rt mastectomy, Chemotherapy and Radiation

Relationship Status at Diagnosis: Married

Current Relationship Status: Separated

Age: 28 years old

Were you a parent at time of diagnosis? No.

Fertility preservation and fertility support services are important to me because: Fertility preservation is important to me because all my life I have worked towards having and family with children. And I could not imagine a future where that was not possible for me. Knowing this vision for myself and my life I refused to give up hope and allow cancer to take the one thing I still have yet to accomplish away from me.

At time of diagnosis, did you know that cancer treatment could affect your fertility? Yes I was aware that it could affect my fertility. Do you feel you received adequate information and/or support regarding fertility risks associated with cancer treatment and fertility

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?: Yes I do feel I received adequate information and support regarding the fertility risks associated with cancer treatment. As soon as I was diagnosed my doctors spoke with me about my options and what might potentially happen in regards to treatment. Referrals were sent out so I could meet the team handling each aspect of my case. And once I communicated my interest in having children they sent my information to the fertility doctor who has seen a lot of cancer patients. I was given loads of information and I found it helpful to know all of the options available to me.

At time of diagnosis, did you know that cancer treatment could affect your fertility?: I was honestly shocked when I heard the news. I was only 16 years old and never really thought of having kids at such a young age. My Social worker had told me about this program and knew instantly that it was something I would be interested in. At first, I was upset thinking that there wasn’t any hope but talking to friends and family made me feel better. They made me realize that adoption could be an option as well.

Briefly describe your life prior to your diagnosis (work, education, family, location):: Prior to my diagnosis I was busy happily married or so I thought. I was working as a bus driver my schedule was busy and I also had a part time job that I did on my off day. It was just me and my husband at home with 3 cats. We were working on starting a family but it had not happened yet. I was also preparing to start school the following year to start working on my masters. but that plan has now been placed on the back burner.

Did your diagnosis change your life or alter your plans for the future?: >Yes it changed everything. I went from having a home with my husband to him walking out on our marriage. I decided to sell our home and move back to my parents so I could get the support I would need while going through this difficult time. My plans for the future have been placed on hold, but the one plan that I will be actively pursuing is the plan to one day become a mother. After all the tests were done and it was found that my cancer was hormone induced the next questions were would I be able to carry my fetus, because it was possible that I might not be able to do that. But I now know that I can carry my own children even if I cannot conceive naturally.

How did your diagnosis impact your desires to become a parent in the future?: My diagnosis has if anything fueled my desire to become a parent in the future. Knowing that I could go into early menopause, that I could possibly not be able to carry my own child to term scared me but it forced me to put everything into perspective. It forced me to make the hard decisions to ensure that I get the future that I want. Knowing that egg preservation is an option for people in my situation is a blessing >because they did not have these options available before.

If you did undergo fertility preservation, please briefly describe your experience.: My experience was a bit painful. I had gotten to the clinic late on the day scheduled for the egg retrieval. I was also dehydrated because we could not drink anything I believe 4 hours prior to the procedure. So they had a difficult time getting a IV on me. Once they did get it in my sleeping drugs were administered in the OR. And before the drugs had taken effect they started the procedure. It was very painful to begin with, I remember feeling the pain of the procedure for at least the 1st 10 min or so then I was out. I also remember having a negative reaction to the sleeping medication. After that I slept. Though my experience was painful I knew why I was doing it so I kept focused on what needed to be done.

Have you become a parent post cancer treatment?: Not yet I am still going through treatment. But once I have completed my treatment I will be looking to become a parent within the next 5 years.

What advice would you give newly diagnosed cancer patients who are facing the possibility of infertility?:I would say don’t get overwhelmed by the diagnosis. Know what you want and ask all the questions you need so you can make an informed decisions in regards to your treatment and your future. Speak to all the doctors that will be facilitating your treatment, voice any concerns you have so they know and if any additional tests need to be performed to provide you with additional information that can be crucial to your fertility future. Cancer treatment is not the end of fertility, you just might need to go a different route to get the desired outcome, but it will all be worth it.

How did you hear about Fertile Future?: The create Fertility Associates at women’s college.