I have so much respect for women facing breast cancer. Not only do you find the strength for your own physical and mental health, but you often have to carry your family and friends’ anxieties and uncertainties. (If you didn’t have to shoulder everything before the diagnosis, why should you now?) My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was in school and her stoicism and experiences significantly influenced my decision to become an OB/GYN. More importantly, thanks to good care, in a few months she will be a 26-year survivor.
For the reproductive-aged women with breast cancer that we see in Mississippi, there are many options for fertility preservation that would improve the odds for future pregnancy. The most important thing to know is that fertility therapy rarely interferes with therapy from your oncologist. In the rare cases that it would, a quick discussion between a reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) specialist and your oncologist can solve most issues. We all share the goal of seeing you live as long and healthfully as possible, as well as later having a successful pregnancy if that’s what you want.
Many women also fear following through with a full chemotherapy regimen will hurt their chances for future pregnancy. Chemotherapy can age the ovary (particularly with alkylating agents), so having your period isn’t a guarantee your ovaries are working as they should. If you want to have children later, have a frank, honest discussion with your doctor before breast cancer therapy instead of “winging it.” Let your care team help you find the right balance. Today’s science offers much hope and more options are available when women talk to their doctors before therapy instead of after it. If your goal is to live a cancer-free life and have children, your doctors will do all they can to help you reach it.
Get the facts, don’t go it alone, and have hope. So much can be done and more people are there for you than you know. To learn more about fertility, go to SurviveMISS Expert Answers Fertility.