Breast cancer cure and awareness should include fertility preservation
One of the many benefits of fertility treatment was that it prepared me for the sacrifices involved in being a mother. As patients, we choose to reallocate our time, our money, and our energy away from the trappings of everyday life. Instead, we pour these valuable holdings into the hat of fertility treatment and hope that our fertility specialist pulls out a baby. We put our lives on hold to invest in a new life.
My cousin Connor’s wife, Jessica, is an extreme and amazing example of this kind of sacrifice. Last year, at age 31, she joined the ranks of women who have faced down breast cancer.
The reservoirs of strength and self-sacrifice run deep within these patients and survivors, and we have a lot to learn from them. So being that it is breast cancer awareness month, or “Pinktober,” (as some call it) I thought her story needed to be shared.
Jessica Stayed Future-Focused during Breast Cancer Treatment
Throughout fertility treatment, we come across decision points: IUI or IVF? How many embryos should we transfer? Should we take a break or keep plowing forward? And how much more of that precious time, energy, and money can we afford to sacrifice?
These decisions are compounding; over time they can feel as if they carry the burden of life with them. But what if that literally was the case?
For Jessica, pursuing fertility preservation meant delaying chemotherapy, giving her already aggressive cancer room to grow. In the end, Connor and Jessica decided to delay chemotherapy and proceed with egg retrieval. Her retrieval was on June 9th. Jessica started chemotherapy on June 10th.
“I was able to start chemo with a clear head knowing that I had eggs safely tucked away, protected from the poison,” recalls Jessica.
The egg retrieval was successful, which gave Jessica an emotional boost before starting five months of intensive chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy and radiation. Today, she is classified as “NED,” a patient who shows “No Evidence of Disease.” It will be something she revisits for the rest of her life, but for now, Jessica is in great health.
Jessica’s story gives me strength, both as a mother and as a fertility patient.
Having a one-year-old, I constantly feel that I am giving all of myself to another little being. We sacrifice so much to make these babies possible, and then we sacrifice even more once they’re finally in our arms. As my husband and I think about adding onto our family, the idea of giving even more of my time, my body, and my energy to fertility treatment is daunting.
And then I think about these warrior women …
…whose bodies have faced battles that I can’t begin to understand. As Jessica was holding the fate of her own life in her hands, she was weighing it against the possibility of bearing another’s one day. If that doesn’t show how deep the desire to have children can run–how valid it is and how much a woman will sacrifice to have it–I don’t know what does.
Women undergoing fertility treatment are well versed in decision-making and physical sacrifice — two qualities highly beneficial in parenting. Jessica and her “breasties,” as she likes to call them, take these gifts to an even higher level. They make (or will make) the most ultimate of mothers.
So hats off to you, breast cancer patients and survivors, this Pinktober. Thank you for dominating at being female as we find a breast cancer cure.
Read more of Jessica’s story here, or contact us at Texas Fertility Center to schedule expedited egg retrieval for fertility preservation prior to cancer treatment.