Fertility and cancer, this is a hard one for me to share but it’s an important one.
“You have cancer and you will need to undergo chemotherapy ” after the initial WHAT THE F**K moments my thoughts quickly went to fertility.
I know to many you may think , but what about survival? That is the first thought, of course it is but as I sat there my heart screamed out at me , fertility, our future, please don’t take this away from me.
You see we don’t have children, we want a family one day but never in a thousand years did I think that cancer would be part of the decision making process.
Something I never knew about breast cancer was the many forms of it. For me , IVF wasn’t so much of an option as my cancer is hormone driven (ER+ PR+ HER2-) and an aggressive little bugger. To undergo IVF could have added fuel to the fire so to speak. This would have meant 2 things:
- Needing more time out before chemo which wasn’t recommended because they wanted to start it immediately.
- Putting more hormones into my body whilst having an angry hormone fed cancer could have been a dangerous move.
With that in mind it was down to myself ultimately to make a decision. After speaking to my fiancé Jake a conversation no young couple should ever have , I decided to not have IVF. Another decision cancer was taking away.
I remember at the time feeling numb, feeling quite harsh with my decisions , very matter of fact. I had to be I guess my mind was in survival mode and although fertility was a huge thing to me, my life was bigger. It broke my heart I’m not going to lie, and I guess now I near the end of chemo I am thinking about fertility more and more but in that moment, that decision had to be made, it all happened so fast everything seemed like a blur. I am at peace with my decision, for me I feel and believe that I did the correct thing.
I was left with one option, Prostap (Leuprorelin acetate) injections (ovarian suppression)
Here is where things get scary when you ‘doctor google’. Many women have these injections to reduce the risk of the hormonal cancer coming back and it puts you into a ‘pretence’ menopause so the side effects are similar to menopause symptoms, so to take the positive at least I know what to expect …every cloud.
“Ovarian suppression (sometimes called ovarian ablation) is the medical term used to prevent the ovaries from producing oestrogen, either temporarily or permanently.” (Breast cancer care )
It may also be used to try to protect your fertility during chemotherapy, like myself.
“Ovarian suppression using hormone therapy is the only form of ovarian suppression that may not be permanent. This may be something to consider when making your decision especially if you want to have children.” (Breast cancer care)
This is my reason for having it. It’s an injection every 28 days that stings like hell gives symptoms like hot flushes something I never thought I’d experience at 33, but you get used to it, it’s all mind over matter, my eye is always on the prize , it’s the only choice I had and I have faith.
I’ve felt everything, but one feeling that’s been quite striking is feeling cheated by cancer. Fertility for any woman is a huge thing, cancer no cancer, but for me coming to terms with cancer itself and also having to come to terms with everything that goes with it like fertility really has tested me. I have felt pushed into decisions that I never thought I would have to make. Risks of becoming infertile because of the gruesome chemo and thoughts of worry about pregnancy with a hormonal cancer . I have felt sad for my partner , for his feelings and emotions , he’s been incredible but this doesn’t just effect me it effects him too. We want a family one day and the thought of cancer taking that away is something that will continue to be in the back of my mind.
Well, I have huge wobbles, but like I say we all must face our fears head on, they will be there faced or not faced so I choose to look them in the eye and deal with what I can. It’s hard , of course it is, but matter of fact things need to be done, precautions need to taken and plans must be made. To bury my head in the sand wouldn’t do me or us any favours and I refuse to let cancer continually take the wheel.
The future and Tamoxifen
Firstly the future is bright. I’m over half way through chemo , 11 down 5 to go and I am responding well. I still have surgery decisions and radiotherapy ahead but I have been making plans for fertility. I know that I will be on tamoxifen for 5-10 years but here’s my fertility plan so far, Start tamoxifen when I begin radiotherapy remain on this for 2 years and come off. Wait 3-4 months then try for a baby. I could go round and round with other worries, but I know over the next couple Years there is nothing I can do, I will have to learn to put this to the back of my mind and LIVE LIFE.
That’s all I have at the moment
It’s a plan and the only plan I have right now so that’s good enough for me, I feel lucky enough to be able to plan this , and we all must seek out the positive. Sometimes I think about what happens if we have children and I am not here in the future to be the mother I want to be, I would be lying if I said those thoughts hadn’t gone through my head, but I tell myself this is totally normal to feel this way and I am not superhuman. I allow myself to let these thoughts in, to allow them to go, it doesn’t stop the pain and heartache all of the time but when faced with anything in life we always have two options of how to look at things negatively or positively and for my soul I choose positively.
Here’s a photo of me and my FUR BABY Larry dixon.
“keep hope close”