What I Wish I’d Known Then…
Jessie Gruman of the Center for Advancing Health is running a blog series on lessons learned about the unique needs and responsibilities of those who have been diagnosed and treated for cancer. The series explores what it takes to find the right health care and make the most of it as part of our efforts to live as well and as long as we can.
I am pleased to be have been able to contribute a piece on a topic very important to me – the effect of breast cancer on fertility.
You can read the article here.
What are some of the things you wish you had known at the start of your cancer journey which may have made a difference to your experience?
Thanks for highlighting this topic which is of such importance to younger women. sad to note that it doesn’t always get the attention from oncologists it deserves
On the subject of fertility, something I wish I’d known ‘then’ was about IVM. This is a sort of IVF that doesn’t involve any hormones. The success rate used to be 1/10, but I think it’s since gone up a bit. Okay, so the odds are yet to be awesome – BUT – a hormone free option seems rather epically important to a woman diagnosed with estrogen receptive cancer. The process itself only takes a couple days so it doesn’t even get in the way of treatment.
Other options is having the ovary removed and frozen, then later reinserted, or having a biopsy of the ovary. There’s even a method now where they remove the ovary, freeze it, and may (in the future) be able to extract eggs on the lab bench.
Unfortunately, these options become far less likely to succeed post chemotherapy. It’s a bit heartbreaking.
As if facing breast cancer isn’t tough enough, infertility feels like a double whammy – a cruel insult added to injury.
@facingcancertogether you were diagnosed quite a bit later than me so it is very frustrating to hear that those options weren’t open to you either. you are right – it is so heartbreaking.
Very good piece, Marie. I wish I had been urged, no, commanded, to have a mastectomy rather than a lumpectomy and radiation when I first found my lump in 1996. That alone would have been likely to have extended my life over what it will now be. But we can’t change the past. I forge ahead, trying to help other women through this quagmire that is breast cancer. xo
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