Back to the Future – Part 1: To Freeze or Not to Freeze (Fertility Preservation)

fertility preservation, chemotherapy, egg freezing
Time traveler?

The goal of chemo is to annihilate cancer cells that may still be lingering in the body after the tumour has been removed. However, it’s spidey senses aren’t super sharp, so it can’t simply just find the cells that are cancerous, so it kills a bunch of other innocent bystanders throughout its mission—like hair, blood cells…and parts of the reproductive system.

The damage to the reproduction system may be permanent hence the urgency of the uncomfortable, “Do you want to have kids?” conversation with the doctor.

Doctor: Do you want to have kids?
Me: Heh?
Doctor: Well chemo will damage your reproductive system…possibly permanently.
Me: Heh?
Doctor:I’ll set up an appointment with the fertility clinic so you can at least consider the option before chemo starts.
Me:Fertility clinic?!?!
Doctor: Well if you want to have kids, you need to consider freezing your eggs.

Freezing my EGGS?!? All of sudden I felt a part of some sci-fi experiment that I didn’t sign up for!

I figure I should at least go to the appointment, find out what’s what and make sure this wouldn’t interfere with my treatment. The fertility clinic was located in a nearly abandoned hospital—most of the facilities had already moved to the new super hospital. I wandered the creepy hallways until I found what seemed like a still-functioning elevator to the sixth floor. I walked in—the walls were covered with pictures and stories of miracle babies. OMG.

I met with the fertility doctor a.k.a Doc—a Française with disheveled, gray hair. I started asking my questions one by one, but it seemed she had already signed me up—as if she had spoken to my future self and knew that I would be happy and thank her for doing this. The nurse was ready with the needles and probes to begin the “process”, but fortunately it required that I have my menses (I don’t know why there are so many words for a woman’s period!) so I was able to escape and have time to think about it.

DID I want to have kids? For someone who’d just been told she has breast cancer, this clearly wasn’t on my mind. It’s like I needed to talk to my past self to understand why I didn’t have kids yet…maybe she never wanted any? There were many valid reasons for not having kids these days. And then there was my future self—maybe at some point, she decides to do it! But the present moment was forcing me to make a decision NOW. Where’s a damn DeLorean when you need one?!?

Since I couldn’t travel in time, I did the next logical thing—I did some research online and spoke to family and friends to feel out the scenario.

Male Friend: I think you should do it!
Me: Really?
Male Friend: Yes! Yesssss, and then in the lab, we’ll throw in some of my little guys, and some from that friend of ours and maybe some from that another friend, and see what comes out!
Me: Uh-huhhh.
Male Friend: Or we could recreate the dinosaurs!
Me: Riiiight.

Though the dinosaur experiment did slightly peak my interest, I once again spoke to my doctor to make sure it would be all good—according to my research, taking fertility drugs can cause cancer. Sigh. But no worries, there was a pill to counter that! A few weeks passed and I still hadn’t fully made a decision before it happened—I got my menses. And the moment of truth was upon me…



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Going through the ups and downs of coping with breast cancer.

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