Shauna Wears Pink

I will never forget the day my doctor uttered those horrifying words “I am sorry to tell you, but that is a cancer tumor that you have in your left breast”. I was 33 years old, and my life changed forever. I invite you to read my story, learn from it and hopefully be inspired to reach out to other young women living with and beyond breast cancer.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Preserving my fertility:

After meeting with my surgeon and oncologist, my next stop was an appointment with the local fertility doctor. Since we had no trouble conceiving our son, my husband and I were unfamiliar with the world of fertility treatments and procedures. Also, unlike all the other medical issues surrounding my breast cancer, this one required direct involvement by my husband (I am sure you know where I am going with this). In these next few entries I am going to be completely honest and candidate about a subject that is deeply private and personal in hopes that this information will help other women make a decision about this very important subject before it is too late. You see, when you are diagnosed with breast cancer all your doctors are in a rush to get things done (as they should be). If you have surgery before chemotherapy it usually occurs within a couple weeks of your diagnosis with chemotherapy scheduled a few weeks later. Once you have chemotherapy it is too late. Your ovaries shut down during chemotherapy and may never work again. So you basically have a very small window in which do anything to preserve your fertility. Thus, if you don’t have the right information within days of your diagnosis, you may not be able to do anything about it. So in my case after gleaning every possible piece of information from my fertility doctor, he referred me to a wonderful website called This website contains the absolute latest in fertility options for cancer patients, both pre and post chemotherapy. It also offers grants for those with financial need to cover the cost of the fertility treatments, because most insurance does not cover these treatments (even when you are doing the treatments due to cancer and not due to infertility). My husband and I knew we wanted more children, so we had to agree on the extent of the measures we were willing to take to preserve my fertility. After many thoughtful discussions we agreed that if we were to have more children, they would have to be our biological children (i.e. my egg and his sperm) and that I would bear the children (i.e. we would not use a surrogate). This was all very logical and made sense, but for me there was another aspect of this whole fertility business that drove me to investigate every possible option: All I could think about was the very toxic chemotherapy penetrating my ovaries and killing, one by one, my eggs (and what amounted to my future children). I admit this was not very logical and possibly irrational thinking on my part. The truth is: although the chemotherapy does damage your eggs, they do heal after a period of time. And if your body cooperates and starts ovulating again before your eggs are too old, you are back in business. However, I just could not stop myself from thinking about the chemotherapy in terms of killing my eggs and thus my future babies. Many nights I would cry myself to sleep thinking about it, and asking, “Why, why, why….why must I do something albeit life saving for me (i.e. the chemotherapy) that might kill my future children?”


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