At 36 years of age, a breast cancer diagnosis was the last thing I was expecting. Nor was I expecting to be confronted with major life decisions about my future as a result of the cancer treatment. However, what started as a nightmare ended with the biggest miracle of my life.
One of the first thoughts I had after I was diagnosed was about the impact of cancer treatment on my ability to have a child. The question entered my mind quickly and never let up. In advance of my first oncology appointment, I began a quest for information on the subject. I was surprised and profoundly disappointed that many people told me that I should deal with cancer first and address any fertility issues down the road. In my head, that meant waiting until there was nothing I could do. I was very much of the mind that there would be life after cancer, and for me, that life included a child.
At my first oncology appointment, my fears were confirmed: the treatment could significantly decrease my chances of conceiving a child. I immediately asked if I could be referred to the Mount Sinai Centre for Fertility & Reproductive Health, as I knew they offered fertility preservation for oncology patients — freezing of eggs, sperm or embryos to be used at a later date. I got an appointment the very next day.
After my appointment at Mount Sinai, I knew I had made the right decision. My physician was so confident and optimistic; she gave me a realistic picture of the chances of success and reassured me that they would work with my oncologist. From the very beginning, she kept saying, “We can do this.” It gave me a lot of hope. I was also informed about Mount Sinai’s compassionate financial assistance program, which was a significant relief to me.
There were a lot of big decisions to make in a tight timeframe, but I knew all along that this was what I had to do. When all was said and done, I had 13 frozen embryos that would be ready for when my partner and I decided to start a family.
That time came when I was 41 years old and my cancer treatment was complete. I underwent all the necessary procedures, ending with the transfer of embryos into my uterus. From that point on, my life was forever altered.
With the birth of our beautiful son, Logan, all my dreams came true. He is my little miracle. Now four years old, he has boundless energy and is full of love, and has brought so much joy to our lives. I am so grateful for the wonderful care I received at Mount Sinai. I don’t know if we’d have Logan without them.
After going through this incredible process, I now feel strongly that individuals of childbearing age who are facing cancer treatment need to be made aware early on that their future fertility may be impacted. Not all oncologists may know about the resources available at places like Mount Sinai. I strongly urge people to do their own research, and understand that for many people, there is life after cancer. In my case — a very happy one.
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