Nicole, 30 years old

Type of Cancer: Breast Cancer

Cancer Treatment Received: Chemotherapy, Radiation

Relationship Status at Diagnosis: Married

Current Relationship Status: Married

Age: 30 years old

Were you a parent at time of diagnosis? 36 weeks pregnant

Fertility preservation and fertility support services are important to me because: Fertility preservation and support services are important to me because without them my family may look much different in the future. Fertility preservation may give me an opportunity (which I may not have had due to the effects of my treatments) to add to and grow my family in the future.

At time of diagnosis, did you know that cancer treatment could affect your fertility? No, I was not aware that the treatments i was to receive could potentially affect my 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? Unfortunately i feel that i did not receive adequate information regarding the fertility risks associated with receiving chemotherapy. Perhaps it was because i was already pregnant at the time and my doctors did not consider that i would want more children down the road or because with the many other issues that arise upon diagnosis, fertility risks were not their priority.

If you were not already aware, how did you feel after learning about the possibility of cancer-related infertility? Briefly describe your life prior to your diagnosis : After receiving all of the information regarding the possibility of cancer-related infertility i was quite upset. I was induced to have my baby the day after my diagnosis and as soon as my beautiful girl was born, I knew that I wanted to experience the miracle of new life and birth again. I grew up with an older and younger brother; the bond we share is so very special. Knowing that conceiving again might not be a possibility made me sad, not only for myself, but also for my daughter, that she might not be able to experience that special relationship between siblings. Briefly describe your life prior to your diagnosis (work, education, family, location):: Prior to my diagnosis, I had been teaching for 7 years. I taught mostly grade 6 and 7. I love my job. Developing relationships with my students and learning about them is the best part. Knowing that I can make a difference in their lives and help make everyday a good day for them is so rewarding. I had a full year off on maternity leave, which consisted mainly of surgery, recovery, chemotherapy and radiation mixed with all the new learning (and crazy exhaustion) of being a brand new mom.

Did your diagnosis change your life or alter your plans for the future? Having cancer has definitely altered my plans for the future. Unfortunately due to many of the side effects from my treatments, I am unable to return to work. Although, this is also a blessing because I am able to spend my days, uninterrupted by appointments and visits to the hospital, with my little girl. Now that I have more energy and am healing and recovering, I can truly enjoy the time we have together. When I thought of being a mother and having children, I always imagined my kids would be 2-3 years apart, much like my brothers and I. Now, because of the medications I have to be on for the next 5-10 years, my family plan has changed. I am not able to get pregnant while on these medications and coming off of them early will increase my risk of the cancer returning. I am so thankful that I already have one perfectly healthy, amazing child, and hope that I will be able to have more in the future.

How did your diagnosis impact your desires to become a parent in the future? My diagnosis has made me so thankful that i have already had the opportunity to be a parent. After my daughter was born, my family still did not have a complete diagnosis in terms of how serious the cancer was. I lay awake many nights consumed by thoughts of whether or not i would even be around to see my child grow up, to see her take her first steps and run into my arms, to hear her first words, to see her off on her first day of school….all of these milestones i wondered if i would ever see. Or would my child grow up without a mother? My diagnosis has made me appreciate every waking moment as a parent and has fuelled a desire to have more children and add to our family.

If you did undergo fertility preservation, please briefly describe your experience. Although my experience with fertility preservation was quite stressful, overall it was a positive one. It was stressful mainly because my oncologists were very late in notifying me of the fertility risks associated with my particular treatment. We had a very small timeframe to complete the fertility treatments and hope that it would be successful. Thankfully everything went smoothly and I now have 7 embryos on ice…or as my dad calls them, his grandsicles.

What advice would you give newly diagnosed cancer patients who are facing the possibility of infertility? Cancer treatments could potentially leave you infertile. It is important to give yourself some options for the future. Taking advantage of fertility treatments can give you the peace of mind knowing that if you are infertile after your cancer treatments, there is still hope and the family you dream of is still a possibility.

How did you hear about Fertile Future? We heard about Fertile Future through the fertility clinic that we were patients of. The doctors made us aware of the help that was out there for us, and for that we are truly grateful. Thank You.