Sunday, November 4, 2012

#8: Start a Family*

*This resolution is still in-progress.

I never thought about fertility before cancer. I always assumed having children was simple, straightforward, and that I’d be able to well into my 30s. Since finishing treatment, however, I only think of my fertility. It’s the one side-effect of treatment I feel powerless against. It's not helped by the fact that it’s the one thing my oncologists ask about at every follow-up appointment.

My niece, Emmeline and me, just after
I started chemo in October 2010.
Despite their interest now, my oncologists didn’t bring fertility up when I was diagnosed. By some stroke of luck, I asked. I learned that I would need a) a sperm donor (try asking that to your 26-year-old boyfriend of one year), b) to delay treatment for 4 weeks to stimulate my ovaries and produce an egg, and c) to know that the frozen embryo might not even be successfully implanted later on. Long story short, my oncologist didn't recommend it. My survival was in question and I couldn't think of anything else.

Now that I'm in remission, fertility is all I think about when I think of cancer. My fears aren't eased by my doctor's curiosity, or that conclusive evidence on chemo’s impact on fertility is far from my grasp. I am haunted by the words a fellow survivor's gynecologist told her: "the sooner you start trying, the easier it will be." How do I quell my fears when starting a family is further from my grasp every day?!

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it" my oncologist says. But, I'm scared. What if cancer isn't something that motivates me to live better, or be true to myself, but instead something that prevents me from doing exactly what I want the most?

I'm not having kids any time soon. Although my fears have changed, my desires are still the same – I want to bring children into a healthy, safe and caring environment. That part is in my control and I work at it everyday, which is why this resolution is 'in progress'. And when I finally do have the chance to start a family of my own, I hope I'm grateful for the experience I had until that moment. Yes, possibly even cancer.

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