- State: NC
- Cancer Type: Hodgkins Lymphoma
- Age at Diagnosis: 19
What is your current treatment state?
Finished all treatments
Did you undergo any fertility preservation treatments?
Yes, Donor Eggs
Did someone on your healthcare team speak to you about the possible effects of cancer treatments on your fertility?
First Diagnosis: No, Hodgkin’s recurrence: Yes
Who raised the topic?
a member of my healthcare team did
Was the information you received thorough and helpful?
When were you told that your fertility might be affected by your cancer treatments?
Before I started active treatment
Why did you not undergo fertility preservation?
Other, Read Manda’s story below
Did you become a parent after cancer?
Yes, I used donor eggs
My cancer journey has several chapters. Chapter one: I was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s when I was 19 years old. At that time, there wasn’t any mention of fertility by my healthcare providers, and I wasn’t really thinking about having children. Furthermore, I had to start treatment quickly, so I’m not sure there would have been time. After about 8-10 months of treatment, I was considered cancer-free and I went on about my life for about 8 years. It was during this time that I feel I should have looked into fertility preservation options, but I just didn’t know about the options and wasn’t really thinking that my cancer would return. Chapter 2: Eventually, I suffered a Hodgkin’s recurrence. At that point I was in my late 20s, in a committed relationship, and a little more concerned about my fertility options. My healthcare team was, too. It’s unfortunate that it all fell off the radar when I was19, but then again, not many young women are hoping to have children at 19. This time though, there really wasn’t any time for fertility preservation. I was in a pretty bad state. So I forged on with treatment that included a bone marrow transplant. I do remember meeting with a specialist, that basically told me that I didn’t have any options. Which wasn’t entirely true. After treatments, getting married, and being cancer free for several years, I looked into finding out what options I really had. I settled on the use of donor eggs, chose an anonymous egg donor, and had a fresh embryo transfer that resulted in a successful pregnancy and healthy baby, with a few embryos left to freeze. Other options included using frozen donor embryos and frozen donor eggs that were originally someone else’s, but were up for donation, and of course the option of adoption. There might have been others. It’s important to talk with a fertility clinic to go over all options available. Chapter 3 is my current chapter. I am still cancer-free, and I hope to raise awareness for young adults, particularly young women, that may be going through a cancer diagnosis as a late teen. No one really mentioned to me anything relating to fertility, and I feel like this shouldn’t have been overlooked. My odds of beating Hodgkin’s was pretty high, but after the first round of survivor-ship, I think the holistic approach to treatment after cancer should include the choice to undergo fertility preservation. It should also include more information on how to talk with loved ones about your potential fertility issues, and a whole host of others things you might face when navigating medically and socially as a cancer patient and survivor. I can honestly say that even when cancer treatment is over and you get into a new normal, “treatment” never really actually stops. The effect of cancer on your physical and emotional ability to thrive linger long after chemo, radiation, surgery, and bone marrow transplants are finished. You may have secondary diseases, for example I have hypothyroidism, and/or fertility issues. You may have mental illness. You may suffer secondary damage on your lungs or heart from treatments. This list can go on and on. On top of the constant fear that your pre-existing condition can negatively impact your ability to get adequate health insurance. I am fortunate that I have a wonderful support system and family. I am grateful everyday that I have been able to beat cancer twice and live the life I imagined for myself. And, I think I owe it to others to help make it a little easier for them to navigate the journey.