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Archive for the ‘egg freezing before cancer’ tag

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By Tracey Minella

October 3rd, 2014 at 6:01 pm

 

 

image: wpcliptart.com


Those desperate to have a baby may feel that nothing is more devastating than suffering from infertility. But if anything can trump infertility on the list of unfair hands dealt, it would most certainly be cancer.

So, in the spirit of raising breast cancer awareness this month, there are two important messages to share.

First, is to echo the bandwagon message about staying current with preventative measures like vigilant, routine breast self-exams between equally-vigilant annual exams at the gynecologist’s office. Also keep current with your annual mammogram. If you are still walking around with that tattered mammogram prescription in your bag, pick up the phone today and schedule that appointment. Go on, now.

This is particularly true for infertility patients who have understandably had enough of daily paper gowns and stirrups, and mistakenly assume that the constant medical “activity” down there takes the place of a GYN exam. The stirrups at the RE’s office are not the same as those at the GYN’s office. Staying current with your pap, mammo, and other GYN matters is especially important when trying to conceive. The last thing you want is to find yourself finally pregnant and then facing what might have been a preventable GYN issue.

The second message is spread awareness of fertility preservation to those facing a cancer diagnosis. Men and women, and teens, too. Fertility preservation through egg/sperm/or embryo freezing… when done prior to certain cancer treatments that may impair future fertility… is an important but often over-looked part of the cancer patient’s experience.

Understandably, newly-diagnosed cancer patients (breast or otherwise) are grappling with so much and are focused on saving their lives. When the patient is only a teen, the last thing worried parents may think of is the child’s future fertility. But fertility preservation must be considered early in the treatment plan.

Here’s how you can help others. If your friends or family are diagnosed with cancer during fertile years (including young teens), gently and quickly remind them to ask their doctor if the cancer treatment being recommended will affect or destroy their fertility and, if so, whether fertility preservation prior to cancer treatment is an option.  (Yes, it may be uncomfortable treading in such a personal area, but they will thank you when they can think clearly.) Fertility preservation can usually be done very quickly and the cancer treatment may be able to accommodate it. That way, when the cancer battle is won, the survivor will have more options when they’re ready to move forward with any family-building plans.

Fertility preservation offers a great window of opportunity for many cancer patients, but it sadly is not open indefinitely. Sharing this information may be the difference between a cancer survivor being able to have his or her own genetic offspring one day…or not.

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Did you know that fertility preservation was an option for cancer patients?

LONG ISLAND IVF was nominated BEST IN VITRO FERTILITY PRACTICE in the Long Island Press’s “Best of Long Island 2015″ contest. If you’d like to vote to help us win, you can vote once per day from now through Dec 15 in the Health and Wellness category, here: http://bestof.longislandpress.com/voting-open/

 

Photo credit: public domain image provided courtesy of wpclipart.com

http://www.wpclipart.com/medical/breast_cancer_awareness/breast_cancer_ribbon_black_bg.png.html

 

 

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Fertility Preservation, IVF, and a Race Against Time

By David Kreiner MD

June 9th, 2013 at 10:28 pm

I attended a beautiful First Communion party for the cutest seven year-old boy, Michael.  We were dancing and feasting and making merry in celebration of this very special boy’s religious achievement.

His mom, Sylvanna, made a speech that left not a dry eye in the catering hall.  She told her story… one that most in the room were previously unaware of.

Michael was the blessed product of IVF using her then-dying husband’s frozen sperm. 

She explained that one day her son Nicky came home from school crying for a baby brother.  Unfortunately, Sylvanna’s husband, Kenny, was undergoing yet another chemotherapy treatment for advanced colon cancer that had spread throughout Kenny’s body, forcing him to be bedridden much of the time.

She told Kenny about Nicky’s desire for a sibling and Kenny’s reaction was that Sylvanna was crazy to consider it. Aside from his not being able to help raise a child, he thought he would not be able to contribute as he no longer made any sperm.   But Sylvanna loved her son and her husband so much that she was determined to make this happen.

Fortunately, Kenny had frozen sperm prior to his treatment when he was initially diagnosed so there did exist sperm in the bank.  With no more than hopes and prayers, Sylvanna presented to my office begging that we could assist her in her attempt to grow her family despite her husband’s illness.

The challenge was not just the limited available sperm… since only that which was frozen was going to be available… but Sylvanna was already past her 40th birthday, not to add that it was unclear how much time Kenny had left.

Sylvanna’s dad, a resident in Sicily came to support her during her IVF cycle and implored me to do everything possible to make his daughter’s dream of expanding her family a reality.  To do so by any means other than using Kenny’s sperm and her eggs was not a consideration for them.

Sylvanna stimulated well for her age and we retrieved eggs that fertilized with the cryopreserved sperm.  Two weeks later, I called Sylvanna with the news that would change her life and eventually lead to this celebration that we were now enjoying.

Months after Michael was born, Kenny did pass away but not until he got to know his second son, who lives on in his father’s memory, loved and supported by his dedicated mom, Sylvanna, his older brother Nicky, and a new family which includes her new husband, also named Kenny and his two children.

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Did you know that fertility preservation…freezing eggs, sperm, or embryos… prior to commencing cancer treatment, if time permits,  can often enable men and women to have biological children after their cancer crisis has been resolved?

photo credit: vera kratochivil http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=16861&picture=baby-and-dad-sleeping

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Fertility-Saving Options for Breast Cancer Patients

By Tracey Minella

October 2nd, 2012 at 8:11 pm

credit: wpclipart.com

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The movement to remind women to get mammograms is in full swing.  Pink… the color for breast cancer awareness… is everywhere. It is no longer taboo to talk about breasts! Silicone bracelets proclaiming “Save the Tatas” and “I Love Boobies” have been spotted on the wrists of young and old alike.

Society’s newfound comfort with the word “breast” …and its slang…is evidence of how far breast cancer awareness has come. And it offers hope that the infertility awareness campaign will someday join breast cancer in terms of public awareness, funding, and support. If we can openly talk openly about breasts, can ovaries be far behind?

When you’re trying to conceive and you can’t, and then you go to a fertility specialist for help, and it still doesn’t happen, some women might think their life is over. That nothing could be worse. That no one has it harder than they do. Some may even feel that there’s no reason to go on if they can’t have a baby.

That probably sounds melodramatic to anyone who hasn’t faced down infertility… who hasn’t faced the possibility that the most maternal of our instincts, desires, and needs could be denied. But while the infertile woman is absolutely justified in feeling the whole range of emotions that accompany her diagnosis, things could actually be worse.

“What could possibly be worse than being infertile?” you ask.

You could have breast cancer.

It wasn’t all that long ago that a breast cancer diagnosis, with its accompanying chemotherapy and/or radiation, meant the end of a woman’s dream of having a biological child. The focus…and rightly so…was on saving her life. Not her breast. And certainly not her fertility.

Today there are more options for women. Now, women may have the chance to freeze their eggs or embryos prior to undergoing chemo or radiation or prior to surgically removing their ovaries. By doing that, women may be able to preserve their fertility for a future time when their breast cancer…or any cancer… crisis is behind them.

Although some breast cancer survivors do not undergo chemotherapy or radiation and, accordingly don’t compromise their fertility, many women do need these more aggressive cancer treatments. Thanks to egg and embryo freezing now, and IVF and embryo transfers later, more breast cancer survivors will be able to enjoy the post-cancer miracle of giving birth to a biological child.

Hopefully most oncologists and primary care doctors would refer young, newly-diagnosed cancer patients who have yet to start or complete their families to a reproductive endocrinologist for a consultation prior to chemotherapy or radiation or oophorectomy if time permits. If not, it’s an omission that can’t be remedied later.

Even if the referral is recommended, can a newly-diagnosed cancer patient even wrap her head around saving her fertility when she fears for her life? And if so, does her particular cancer allow her the time to explore this option? And what about teens whose health care is effectively still in the hands of their parents? Will the parents even think about their “baby’s” future fertility in the chaos of living through a parent’s worst nightmare?

It’s up to all of us to help spread the word about fertility-saving options so no woman who beats cancer has to find out afterward that she can’t become pregnant using her own eggs. So, file this information away and hope you never need to use it:

If any female you know (except post-menopausal women)…even a teen… is ever diagnosed with breast cancer, tell her or her spouse or parent to consider consulting  a reproductive endocrinologist before having chemotherapy or radiation or before removing her ovaries, if her cancer treatment protocol can accommodate the delay. You just might save her fertility. Of course, any post-menopausal woman diagnosed with breast cancer and any woman who did not pursue fertility preservation efforts prior to undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation could explore conceiving with donor eggs or embryos after her treatment ends.

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Do you know of anyone who preserved her fertility prior to cancer treatment? Would you be able to share this information with someone diagnosed with cancer?

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