Cancer & Fertility: My story!
May 11, 2013 § 3 Comments
A lot of people have asked us if this pregnancy was planned or unplanned. It was most definitely planned! We knew we were ready to start a family we just weren’t sure how that family was going to come together. See, when I found out I had cancer at 21 the first thing I asked my oncologist was how I could preserve my fertility. At that time in 2006 there were ZERO fertility guidelines for oncologists dealing with women in child-bearing years. Docs had always offered to bank sperm for men but for some reason at that time a conversation about women’s options was not common place. My oncologist was stunned that I had asked and tried to re-direct me reminding me I’d be loosing my hair. I can so vividly remember thinking to myself..”DUH, I’ve seen a St. Jude Commercial”. I again asked what my options were, emphasizing that I wanted to have my own children if that was at all possible. He offered to make a couple of calls and get back to me.
Pretty quickly we were referred to the amazing Dr. Kiltz at CNY fertility center in Syracuse, NY. (Where I was receiving treatment while living with my parents) From the second I walked into his office I knew everything was going to be ok. Dr. Kiltz explained my options to me and my then boyfriend of 6 months (who now is my amazing husband). He recommended I could freeze eggs or embryo’s. His preference was embryo’s because at that time the statistics for successful embryo implementation were drastically higher than eggs frozen, then fertilized and implanted. At the time we weren’t sure where the relationship was going and embryo’s seemed a bit too high on the commitment totem pole. I opted to harvest my eggs and have them frozen. I also opted to have monthly depo-lupron shots that essentially put me into a medically induced menopause (lots of fun for everyone in my life). The theory being, if we turn your ovaries off there is less of a chance the chem0-therapy will destroy them. I won’t go into the details about the harvesting process, but it wasn’t easy. I feel for any woman who goes through IVF or fertility preservation. I’ll leave it at that. I ended up with 6 frozen eggs after all was said and done.
I also want to just say that Dr. Kiltz did everything for me at a hugely reduced rate. In 2006 insurance companies wouldn’t cover fertility preservation for female cancer patients. They would cover anything you did after chemo and trying to get pregnant. Doesn’t make much sense does it? Thanks to organizations like Fertile Hope and Liverstrong for making a huge impact in this area.
For the last 7 years the weight of not knowing if I could conceive and carry a child has weighed on me. I saw numerous specialists. Every one had a different perspective on my fertility. One doctor in Boston told us to start trying then because nothing was for sure. Another doc told me I may go into menopause at anytime as a side effect of the depo-lupron, one doc told me I “may” be normal but also may not be able to ovulate and conceive. That was reassuring, thanks a lot for that! So in the spring of 2010 I decided to just turn it over to God. Put my faith in Him.
Fast forward to this year, Carlton and I decided that we were ready to start trying. We had no idea what the outcome would be. Well our wildest dreams came true..we were blessed to conceive without any medical intervention. We recognize this as a HUGE blessing. I know MANY people who have struggled with conceiving, cancer survivors and many other healthy people. We want to be sensitive to the many people who struggle to get pregnant, I spent 7 years thinking that would be my story. Now our prayers have shifted to a healthy and normal pregnancy and delivery for baby C. I hope this answers questions for people..and if you want more information about Dr. Kiltz or fertility issues for cancer survivors check out: