Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fried, Scrambled or Fertilized?

In addition to dealing with what this diagnosis actually means, we also have to be practical at a time when practicality seems an impossibility. This week has been spent getting life in line in preparation for the start of my delicious chemo infusions (mmmm ... can't wait for the first chemo cocktail). 

One of those practical realities to face is fertility. If you asked me what I'm most scared about in this whole process? It's not the nausea, it's not losing my hair, it's not the poisons that'll be coursing through my body. It's the thought of losing my fertility. Having a family is very important to Craig and me and the prospect of the chemo killing my viable egg-making processes is downright frightening. Less than 20% of people who go through the ABVD chemo cocktail that I'll be receiving enter into an early menopause, but there are no studies as to how many people maintain some fertile functions but still have trouble conceiving. So, today was spent at a fertility specialist where he talked to us about the options that we have and the short time period we have to make a decision. 

The best option seems to be extracting one of my eggs, taking some of Craig's sperm, mixing them together in a petri dish and sending them to the freezer where the embryo will live like a baby popsicle until we're ready to start a family. Sounds easy, but to get to that point, I'd have to do self-injections of hormones tricking my body to produce eggs and making me slightly crazy, a minor surgery and the most crucial requirement: time. Something that I don't have much of. 

After a lot of talking with the doctor and nurses, Craig had the distinct pleasure of sitting beside me through a pelvic exam and ultrasound. I've never seen my husband turn that color. His face was a putrid shade of gray that only got more ghostly looking as we watched the inside of my cervix on the monitor and the doctor pointed out my ovaries and the swollen follicles within them via a very intimidating looking goo-covered probe. It took everything in me not to burst out laughing when the doctor broke out the infamous metal "duck bills" for insertion and Craig's eyes widened. Not many men get to bear witness to something like that ... he gets a gold star for the day. 

The medical decision now lies with my oncologist to deem whether it's safe for me to go through this embryo freezing process and push off my treatment for a few weeks. Once we get his determination, then it's up to us to make what's sure to be one of the hardest decisions of our life: risk waiting these next few weeks before starting to kill the cancer cells multiplying within me or risk the chance that we'll never be able to enjoy the miracle of having our own biological children. 

It's not a decision that we want to make---but we don't have the choice not to. 

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