It was a year ago today that I decided to undergo fertility preservation at Northwestern University’s Oncofertility Consortium.
At the time of my initial diagnosis, when I heard those three words, I remember feeling completely helpless and out of control.
I was slowly being suffocated by the weight of cancer.
During what felt like a period of complete paralysis, I was desperately trying to find ways to regain a sense of normalcy, purpose and control. I wanted to be a part of the decision making process. I wanted to have a voice.
As a young adult facing a cancer diagnosis- I learned very quickly that my fertility may be significantly affected by chemotherapy.
While I knew that cancer was going to rob me of many things, I was unwilling to let this disease rob me of my ability to have children.
Before my official diagnosis and regimen were finalized, I had already started the paper work to preserve my fertility.
This decision, significantly affected the way I chose to fight cancer.
From the very beginning I was already thinking about life after cancer. Choosing to protect my fertility allowed me to hold on to hope- and without hope I would not have survived.
Over the last 12 months I have been involved in a very painful appeals process with my insurance company to try to prove that I needed and deserved these treatments.
Preserving my fertility was not a luxury-but a necessity.
The research was clear- there was a strong likelihood that my chemotherapy regimen would significantly and perhaps permanently damage my ovaries.
After months of fighting for my life, there was the possibility that I would be rendered sterile.
Having to repeatedly plead with my insurance company to consider my needs- was excruciating.
I was screaming – but no one was listening.
Two days ago I received the news that the initial decision was overturned- and that my fertility preservation would now be covered by insurance.
It was a Chanukah miracle.
Instead of retreating- I chose to scream louder. Instead of accepting defeat- I chose to push harder.
I share this piece of my cancer journey with you because we shouldn’t be whispering about fertility- but screaming about it. It’s outrageous to have to prove that these treatments are not a luxury but a necessity. It’s outrageous that young adult patients are not being told about their options when they are initially diagnosed or shortly thereafter. And its outrageous that there is a silent stigma attached to women that have no choice but to seek fertility options.
I can only hope that my story-will one day help the lives of other young adult cancer patients- who should be focusing their energy on fighting to live -as opposed to fighting to receive coverage.
It’s time to cause a commotion.
Its time to start educating.
It’s time to start mobilizing.
Who’s joining me?