Before I write about this, I want to take the time to say thank you.
Thank you to everyone who has been following my journey, who has sent me flowers and gifts, and for taking the time to read my blog.
This blog was to help me get everything on my mind out, and if it helped a person going through what I’m going through, then it was even better, but I’m realizing this blog is more then that. People are genuinely interested in what is happening and check in on me when I don’t post updates for a while. It is truly heartwarming. All this love and support is helping me in so many ways. Again, I can’t thank you all enough!
Okay so lets talk about my fertility..
When I was told I had to do chemo, I knew I wanted to go everything I could to save my eggs. – If you don’t know, chemotherapy drugs can damage a woman’s eggs and affect fertility. The effects depends on the woman’s age, the types of drugs she gets, and the drug doses. This makes it hard to predict if a woman is likely to be fertile after chemo.
So knowing this, I wanted to preserve my eggs. I researched clinics and my surgeon suggested New Life Fertility Clinic. Andrew and I got an appointment with one of their doctors (I won’t tell what doctor) and it was awful! When I made the appointment, I made sure that the receptionist told the doctor about my case- that I have breast cancer and that I need to do this before I start chemo. They insured me that the doctor knew and that they’ve dealt with cases like mine before. So Andrew and I went to the appointment, met the doctor and it was the worst experience of my life. We sat down and he was so rude, he told us that he’s never dealt with a cancer patient before, while looking up information on the internet- we literally saw him googling information, and he told us that I will not be covered by OHIP because there is a waiting list that we needed to go on. Well I didn’t have time to wait, I needed to save my eggs now! I knew this was wrong and I just wanted to leave. Just before we were leaving, the doctor “jokingly” said to Andrew “Well if you do this and she dies, at least you’ll have her eggs and your sperm.” We were stunned! All I kept thinking about is I’m not going to die, we caught this early, I’m going to be fine. -FUCKING ASSHOLE!
So we went home, I cried because of confusion, frustration and that assholes comment. We never booked anther appointment at that clinic.
We researched more clinics and read reviews. I told my surgeon about New Life and she suggested Astra Fertility, we also wanted to talk to my oncologist. My oncologist suggested Dr.Glass at the Woman’s College Hospital (she is the most well known fertility doctor around) and we did have an appointment to meet her, but I cancelled it due to the hospital being so far away. I can’t drive long distances and I don’t expect Andrew to drive me to Toronto for every appointment. So Andrew and I decided to make an appointment at Astra Fertility. They are located in Mississauga right near Square One and they have other locations in Brampton and Milton- nice and close to Georgetown.
I talked to the receptionist, told her what happened to us at the other clinic and she was so lovely. Insured me that they definitely have had cancer patients and have dealt with cases like mine. So a few weeks later we met with Dr.Michael and it was a much better experience. He was so nice and has had clients with cancer. He said OHIP covers everything except the injections that I’ll need to do. The only thing we needed to decide on was if we wanted to preserve just my eggs or to make embryos. We chose to do embryos.- they take my eggs and Andrews sperm, make an embryo and then freeze them until I’m clear to have children.
If you don’t know how the IVF process works, I’m going to take you through my experience. Every experience can be different, but here’s mine..
They first took 5 vials of blood to test different things- I think just to test my levels and if I had any other diseases. I had to do a regular ultrasound and an internal ultrasound. These were to check my ovaries, see how many eggs I have in each, and see if I have any cysts. I do have endometriosis and some cysts, so I knew they would see the cysts. They did see them, they weren’t that big so that was good. The nurse did tell me that I had a low amount of eggs for my age. She said they saw 3 eggs in one ovary and 6 in the other. She insured me that it could have been just a bad period.- the amount of eggs you have change every cycle, so one cycle you could have a lot of eggs, the next not so much. I’m not going to lie, I was worried. I’m 28, I’ve never had to check to see how many eggs I have.
The next time I go to the clinic is my next period. You go in on your day 2 to get blood drawn and an internal ultrasound. I then start my injections the following day.
I first start off with injecting myself with one needle in my stomach at a specific time for 3 days. I’ve never had to inject myself with a needle and I was terrified. Thank goodness I had a good friend that came over and helped by encouraging me to do it.
After the 3 days, I had to go back in and get blood drawn and an internal ultrasound. At this appointment they told me that I needed to start injecting the other 2 needles, plus the one I’ve already been doing. So now I have to inject myself with 3 needles everyday for the next 7 days. I also have to go to the clinic everyday to get blood drawn and an internal ultrasound done, so they can monitor my eggs.
Well here they are! My babies! I had 7 in my left ovary and 14 in my right.
On Friday, April 7th I went in for the procedure to remove my eggs. It was painful but so worth knowing I would have little babies frozen until I can carry them in my belly. I had a great nurse who took care of me during the procedure, Andrew was in the room with me, which was so nice to not be alone. He always makes me feel safe and the last surgery I had was my mastectomy and that I had to go in alone.
We were able to watch the doctor on a monitor suck out the follicles– those black circles. The doctor takes a needle and literally sucks them up, so on the monitor you saw the circles and then the needle and then they were gone. The procedure only took 15 minutes. After that we went home. I didn’t feel the greatest, but it was a great feeling knowing I didn’t have to worry about chemo ruining my eggs.
The next day was Saturday and the clinic called and I was told that 10 eggs were matured and that they were waiting to be made into embryos. The embryo process takes a bit so I didn’t hear from them for a few days. That was okay, since my first round of chemo was the following week.
It is Thursday, April 13th and it’s chemo day. I was sitting in the chemo chair and my nurse just put in my IV. My phone rang and it was the fertility clinic and I asked Andrew to take it. He left and then came back a few minutes later. I couldn’t really read his face expression, but he came over and sat down and I asked him if everything was okay and he told me that the clinic didn’t have an update on the embryos yet. So I didn’t think anything of it, just focused on my first round of chemo.
Friday, April 14th. It is the day after my first chemo. I felt good, just tired. Andrew got up early and went to the gym, then came home and took our dog for a walk. I was laying on my bed when my phone rang. It was the fertility clinic. I answered it and it was Dr.Michael. He said I wanted to call and talk to you about your embryos, as you know non of them made it.
I didn’t know what to say to him. I was shocked and lost for words. I told him that I didn’t know that and repeatedly asked him how could this have happened. He was very apologetic and told me that it’s not common for someone my age to not have their eggs survive, but he said you’re under extreme stress, you and your body have gone through surgery and radiation, and unfortunately your eggs were stressed. At that moment I knew they told Andrew when I asked him to answer the call.
Andrew came back from walking our dog and we talked. He told me that they did tell him during that phone call and also called him two more times after that. He was going to tell me when he got back from walking our dog. I felt terrible. I felt awful that he kept that from me the entire time I was going through chemo. That he had this massive secret and didn’t want to tell me because he knew I’d get upset, and he wanted me to focus on only getting through my first round of chemo. I couldn’t stop crying. They were a glimpse of hope and my future for me, and they are all gone. I felt ripped apart. I had a shower and in it I bawled my eyes out. I’ve never cried like that before. I wept for them. They were my babies, and I failed them. I failed Andrew, and my parents and his parents. I felt useless and defeated. Here I am trying to not get too upset because my immune is so low from the chemo, that I can get sick very easily, meanwhile I’m trying to grieve the loss of my unborn babies. I was heartbroken. I’m still heartbroken, and I still cry thinking about them.
Since my eggs were under extreme stress, my fertility doctor and oncologist both agreed that we should shut down my ovaries for the remainder of my chemo treatments, and maybe a few years afterwards. This will help to make sure no further eggs are damaged or stressed. So I now have to get an injection in my belly every month to stop my ovaries in making eggs. I am making my body go into menopause. I take what is called Zoladex also known as Goserelin.
My oncologist truly believes that I’ll be able to get pregnant naturally after all this is over. I believe him. I believe this has all happened for a reason.. I have to believe.
This experience has been an unfortunate one, but as much as this one was shitty, I really did have some good experiences throughout this journey. My mastectomy surgery went so well and I can’t wait to write that blog and tell you all about it, and my first round of chemo went unbelievably great. I can’t wait to tell you all about that one either!