As if being told I had breast cancer was not hard enough, Bri and I were also told that we may have difficulty having children. Apparently, chemo will most likely push me into early menopause – fabulous!
My surgeon told me of patients that have gone on to conceive naturally, but it cannot be guaranteed and so she suggested that I look into freezing my eggs. On December 1, Bri and I found ourselves talking with a reproductive specialist about our options. We sat down and had what I felt was a refresher course in sex ed. But all the information was essential so that we could understand the whole process. The short story is that in order to harvest my eggs, the doctors will pump me up with estrogen to ensure that my body produces a lot of eggs. From there, I am monitored on a daily basis for about 10 – 12 days and then I go for a minor surgical procedure. Once they take my eggs, they would be fertilized and several embryos would be frozen for later use. The whole process of IVF would have about a 65% success rate.
Sounds great. But there was a catch. As I mentioned before, certain courses of action are dependent upon previous procedures and results. When my lumpectomy is performed, the cancer and surrounding tissue will also undergo several tests. The big test is whether or not my cancer is receptive to estrogen (ER +/-). If I am ER+, then it is highly unlikely that my oncologist would recommend moving forward with this procedure since adding in additional estrogen would not be good for my diagnosis. If that is the case, there are options to still experience pregnancy, but with a donor embryo or look to adoption.
Apparently, I am young for cancer, but old for not having kids. When we first started talking about my options and possible outcomes, I was really sad and frustrated. Accepting this possibility has been really hard for me, but Bri has been so strong and positive. Instead of starting sentences with “what if”, I notice him saying things like, “we will be awesome parents.” Having positive thoughts like this has really helped. Shortly after our appointment with the specialist, I found myself writing Bri an email where I tried to find the silver lining in all of this. I’m not sure if I did a good job, but I just focused on what good could potentially come out of all of this.
So, we now find ourselves in the waiting game – just waiting to hear the results of my pathology report to determine our next course of action.
Prior to meeting with the reproductive specialist, I also met with my radiation oncologist for a consultation. This was the only appointment that I went to alone and I regret it. Prior to that appointment, I looked up the doctor and his background. I also looked up different questions or issues that I should be asking. I even printed out all of my questions. Unfortunately, I asked barely any of my questions. I actually felt more comfortable chatting with my doctor and asking him personal questions rather than focusing on my health. Lesson learned: don’t go to appointments alone.