Upcoming in the August 4 issue of Newsweek, available online now, an article on the proliferating field of oncofertility, assisted reproduction for women with cancer:
When Annie Dauer’s oncologist told her she’d need a [adult!] stem-cell transplant to cure her non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Dauer’s first thought wasn’t about death but about life.
“I asked what would happen to my fertility,” she says. Her oncologist dismissed the question: ” ‘Honey, you’re fighting for your life; forget the fertility at this point,’ she told me.”
But Dauer, then 30 and newly married, pressed the subject until the oncologist referred her to a fertility specialist. Since Dauer’s chemotherapy regimen would most likely destroy her body’s egg supply, the specialist, in an experimental procedure, removed one of her ovaries, froze it and reimplanted it when Dauer recovered….
Three years later, Dauer, now cancer-free, and her husband, Greg, have a 2-year-old daughter, Sienna, and a second baby on the way.
Welcome to the burgeoning world of oncofertility….
Of the 125,000 people under the age of 45 who are diagnosed with cancer each year, roughly half will receive treatments that will affect their fertility. The cancers that most commonly strike the young – leukemias, lymphomas and breast cancers – require some of the most toxic forms of chemotherapy, which target rapidly growing and fragile cells like hair follicles, sperm and eggs.
Continue reading the story at Newsweek.com.
The photo above, courtesy of Newsweek, is not of Dauer but of 32-year-old breast cancer patient Ronny Villarreal, holding her 4-month-old daugher Maddy Hunt. Villarreal’s breast cancer returned during her 2nd trimester with a now uncertain prognosis:
“We are trying our hardest to stay positive,” she says. “We have so much to live for.”
More, certainly, than if she never had the chance to get pregnant at all.
I’ve read that the connection between abortion and breast cancer has placed a stigma on women with breast cancer. I’m not accusing Villarreal of having a history of abortion but do consider the sad irony of abortees who contract breast cancer, only then to realize how precious are conception, pregnancy, and children.