Another fertility consultation

Today I have an appointment at the fertility clinic. What this appointment is about, well – no one seems to know.

I don’t know. Zsolt doesn’t know. The nurses don’t know. But the appointment exists and since we didn’t cancel it properly all of three months ago when receiving notice of the booking, we’re going in.

I had tried to cancel this meeting. Calling up the breast care nurses we’d had a conversation about why this meeting was scheduled and had concluded it was a mistake. The nurse said she’d cancel it for me and I decided not to worry. That was three months ago.

Last Friday while having just received the dopy drug into my vein, the chemo nurse says, “So, I see you’ll be going to the Princess Ann on Monday.”

“No . . .” My body is sinking.

“Yes,” she replies. “Someone called for your notes yesterday. You have an appointment with the Fertility clinic.”

“What ?” And the world feels so heavy. “We cancelled that meeting.”


“Do I have to go?” Even my thoughts are getting heavy: have I done something wrong? Will this mistake get me in trouble?

The nurse now wishes aloud that she hadn’t mentioned the appointment because there I am drugged up trying to contemplate another unexpected twist. Thoughts of invitro fertilization and Zolodex are running through my head and I can’t help thinking, “why do they spring these things last minute?” When really, the appointment has been set for three months – regardless of my ignorance to that fact.

Could we still cancel the meeting? It was Friday afternoon, and the meeting was for today – Monday. Should we cancel the meeting? Maybe the doctor will be able to provide new options, or let me know what happens next, or tell how we can check fertility in the future. . . maybe it’s fate that the meeting wasn’t cancelled.

Anyhow, I generally think it’s rude to cancel without sufficient notice. Therefore we are going to this appointment with the doctor who is – as he once mentioned – extremely busy. People wait ages for an appointment, and we’ll be walking in saying something like: hey, how’s it going? Long time no see . . . why are we here?

Oh well. Worst case scenario everyone is confused and we leave within five minutes. Best case – I don’t know! We’ll see.

Fertility and cancer

No matter what cancer you have, if you’re a premenopausal woman and facing chemo then fertility will become an issue.

Today it become my issue.

With all the speed and efficiency possible, the hospital arranged a meeting for Zsolt and I with a fertility doctor. So, today we rode the bus toward Princess Ann Hospital and for once I wasn’t anxious. Today I wasn’t receiving bad news.

We arrived, sat down thirty seconds, and were then (almost immediately) escorted into the doctor’s office.  This wasn’t a clinic and there was no gown for me to change into, and no bed for me to lay on. We sat opposite this charismatic man and had a simple discussion about our options.

Option 1: Get in vitro fertilization (IVF). This means that I’ll need to have estrogen shots for about 10-12 days straight. Then, I’d go into the clinic, get knocked out, and a needle would collect some eggs from my ovaries.   Those eggs would then be mixed with Zsolt’s sperm, and the resulting embryo would be frozen.

That’s my first hiccup. Embryos frozen. I remember when I was about twelve, the teacher asked if we’d ever donate embryos for scientific research. Lots of people said yes, me and a few girls said no. Of course freezing embryos isn’t scientific research, but it’s still freezing. Anyhow, I could get over this – but it’s a hiccup in my mind.

Here’s my second hiccup. Estrogen. Estrogen is my current enemy. Maybe not forever, but for now. This type of cancer loves estrogen. It rode on a wave of estrogen across my breast and riddled it with cysts. I don’t want those cancer cells surfing and settling anywhere else.  True, and perhaps quite validly, the cancer will be removed from my body by the time I’ll get the injections. And by then the chemo will be wiping all fast growing cells from my body, but it’s still an issue.

Which leaves me with option 2: take my chances.

This is where I’m leaning at the moment. The opportunity to have children in the future is incredibly valuable, but more estrogen in my body means more risk. Also, some courses of chemo are less likely to threaten my ovaries, so there’s a good chance my fertility will stand the challenge.

Anyhow, there you go. We’re considering both options and won’t make a final decision till the lab results come back. Then we’ll see.

So that was what I did today, no tests or results or anything. And yet this quick meeting pressed on my mind for the entire afternoon. I’d think of this pro, then that con – back and forth like a tennis game. It was exhausting, and emotional, and difficult. Mostly I feel selfish for considering my health before my future childrens’ lives . . . but there really won’t be any children if I don’t pull through 100%.

Battling it out in my head and getting nowhere, I wrote an email to Zsolt (because I was at work). Essentially – to summarize – it was along the line of, ‘I’m freaking out.’ And then he wrote back ‘Don’t worry, I’ve been researching and it looks pretty good.’

I didn’t know what looked good, or what he’d found – but that calmed me down.  Getting home we talked it over and decided to wait. There’s enough going on at the moment with my mastectomy fast approaching.

Ideally I’ll avoid the estrogen tsunami of IFV. However, if push comes to shove and the specific course of chemo is known to kill ovaries – then we’ll revisit the possibility.