I thought that going through the treatments for my cancer was going to be the hardest part of this journey. I would lose my hair, throw up a few times, be constipated (or have diarrhea), eat less – which would have been difficult for me since I enjoy a big meal— feel tired and weak, among other side effects that could temporarily come with cancer treatments.
Truth is, I find survivorship to be the most difficult part of this journey.
For example, I’ve been contemplating the idea of starting a family. I harvested my eggs prior to treatments to allow myself that option. But now that it’s getting closer to this possibility, there are some concerns.
The decision about having a child may impact my outcome. You see, my tumor’s diet consisted of my estrogen and progesterone. The good part of that is that it makes me a candidate for a daily Tamoxifen pill, which is a good treatment for my type of cancer. Tamoxifen suppresses estrogen. But the problem is, I can’t be pregnant while I am on Tamoxifen. And, my Onco now wants me to take this preventive pill for 10 years instead of 5 years, my original plan. The latest studies show that 10 years may be better.
I will be in my mid 40’s when I am done with Tamoxifen. However, I want a child. I want to build my family now, while I am still young (not saying people in their 40’s are old, but it could be a riskier age for pregnancy). I don’t want to wait until I am in my mid 40’s. I also don’t want to base my life decisions on “what if’s.” There is no evidence that a pregnancy could put my life at risk. But there are no guarantees either, no matter which choice I make. That’s the saddest part for me.
Oh! And did I mention that my doctors recommended that I remove my ovaries by the time I am 42 because of my ovarian cancer risks? Well if I am going to go through this surgery, I might as well get a Hysterectomy. This would def. end the possibility of becoming pregnant.
I am aware I can always adopt but it’s not what I want to do right now. I want to feel my child growing inside my belly. I want to hear his/her heart beat. I need to experience the miracle of giving birth. I want it all.
So here I am wondering what would be the right choice for me. The decision will not only affect me, but my love ones as well. I am not sure how viable it would be for me to get pregnant after cancer. My Onco is not thrilled about me getting pregnant but she is not completely against it. There is no study showing pregnancy would bring my cancer back, but theoretically speaking, it is possible. As you know, pregnancy raises the level of estrogen in the body by a lot, and I will not be protected if cancer were to develop again.
I sometimes worry about the process of pregnancy – how painful would childbirth be? Would I survive it? But I often hear mothers say that the hardest part is not giving birth or being pregnant. The hardest part is to raise that child. Well, this is parallel to how I am feeling right now about my cancer journey. Yes, treatments can be hard but Survivorship has its challenges too.