SEATTLE, Washington – A specialized team of doctors is working to help cancer patients preserve their fertility and get treatment.
It's staffed with experts in fertility and cancer all in the same place.
One patient, Chenault who wanted her complete identity concealed, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma but says maintaining her ability to have children was the most emotional part of her treatment.
"I had never really thought of a life where I wouldn't be able to have children and have a family. It's been important to me for a really long time."
Chenault encourages cancer patients considering fertility preservation to ask a lot of questions about possible treatments and resources.
Dr. Genevieve Neal-Perry runs the Oncoreproduction Clinic, a place where newly diagnosed women can come to freeze eggs, freeze embryos, even get lupron, to put them into temporary menopause until after chemo.
"You have a select population, and you can address their select needs and make sure that we can really provide them very direct and focused care," said Dr. Neal-Perry.
Surgery for cancers of the reproductive system (both men and women) and for cancers in the pelvis region can harm nearby reproductive tissues and cause scarring, which can affect your fertility. Hormone therapy (also called endocrine therapy) used to treat cancer can disrupt the menstrual cycle, which may affect fertility.
Chenault chose to freeze two sets of embryos and get lupron. She just finished chemo and hopes to start talking about babies in six months to a year.
"I can't imagine how much harder this would have been without this response."
Both she and Dr. Neal-Perry say this gives patients some control in a situation where they may feel they have none.
"It really does give patients kind of a license to kind of fight, really move through the treatment and feel positive about the end of the tunnel."
If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at firstname.lastname@example.org or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at email@example.com.