So I just spent the last two hours researching every possible bit of information on the World Wide Web associated with post-cancer treatment pregnancy. My head is swimming.
Here's the deal. As I said a few days back, this whole chemotherapy thing is really cramping my style. The risks of chemotherapy to your reproductive system are intense. For an unmarried, non-mother at age 30, basically all the red lights are flashing to the oncologists trying to help me get better. Fact: Only 5% of breast cancer patients in the U.S. are under the age of 40. Age 40 is considered the breaking point for "child-bearing" or pre/postmenopausal age. Basically there is very little information on post-treatment pregnancy for premenopausal breast cancer patients. The information that is available depends on the type of cancer, the genetic makeup of the cancer, the treatment given for the cancer, and the overall prognosis of the patient. So the phrase "We don't know," is pretty much the general concensus here.
I want to clarify something. My doctors, while leading the "We don't know," brigade are not the issue here. My oncologist recognized the issue and referred me to the specialist. The specialist provided tons of education on the infertility process. While everyone is sensitive to my situation and eager to help, no one has any freakin' answers (stronger adjective implied, but I'm making an attempt at keeping this a family show). No one has any answers because there is little to no data. For me, the research queen who does not take no for an answer, this isn't sitting so well.
So I research. I Google, I Bing, I email, read and search for an answer, a sign, ANYTHING to tell me what I should do here. I am spiritual and I am praying, but short of the Great Almighty dropping a baby in my lap, I am not sure there is a sign in the world that will keep me from second guessing myself on this decision.
So for anyone who wants to know and especially for anyone who ever finds themselves in this super-uncomfortable position, I want to pass along what I have learned. As per the norm, the great people at Susan G. Komen have the most extensive research available. Their online site provides tons of links to various studies and the most comprehensive go-to guide I have found to date. Regardless of where I found it, the research all points in this direction.
1. There is a risk of infertility after breast cancer treatment. It's high and it sucks. Deal with it.
2. Doctors recommend seeking fertility advice from a specialist prior to treatment to explore the widest range of options.
3. Patients with breast cancer, pre-treatment, can and have harvested and stored eggs/embryos.
4. Breast cancer patients post-treatment have had healthy pregnancies with and without fertility intervention.
So here's the story. It's like throwing mud against the wall and hoping it sticks. It is what it is. It's really up to the individual with the guidance of their medical team to decide what is going to work. So I'll keep praying and keep researching and figure it all out. But I had better do it quick because the clock, I guess clocks, are ticking.
Sun, March 10, 2013
by Kara Ward