In 2010 young women represented 30% of the diagnosed women with breast cancer. These young women were mothers, students, young professionals, interns and all were women working on their lives. They suddenly were thrown into this unknown world and had to learn the vast knowledge that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis.
Fertility isn’t the only concern that these young women may have to endure. There are many challenges that come with a diagnosis but young women are now dealing with possible tumors that are more aggressive and then their treatment must match. They may be pregnant at diagnosis and some may need help with childcare, transportation, meals, and a host of personal challenges.
Fertility in Young Women:
This is a challenge for young women but making correct choices can lessen the burden. Naturally we are concerned with our own mortality when a diagnosis of any cancer is given but knowledge plus the appropriate action equals power.
There are several chemotherapy drugs that can temporarily and sometimes permanently cause infertility. If you are pre-menopausal when you have been diagnosed and nowhere near the age of menopause you may want to discuss the options available with your oncologist. Be sure to have this discussion before letting any treatment begin and know your options. Too many do not realize their fertility may be compromised with chemotherapy treatments so do your homework, have the discussion and ask the tough questions.
You do have several choices to protect your fertility before chemo treatments and preservation afterwards. Ask your oncologist about Lupron injections to prevent ovulation during treatment. You may choose to visit a fertility clinic and have some of your eggs frozen for future use or tissue for future fertility. Many women have found they were able to conceive and have children after treatment for breast cancer but having the information before can lessen the challenges down the road. The good news is that having children does not raise the risk of reoccurrence of the disease.
My best advice to those of you who find yourself in this situation is to do your homework, ask the tough questions. We sometimes don’t want to ask those tough questions because we are afraid of the answer or what we don’t know can’t hurt us. I urge you to change your thought process in this instance and get the answers you need.
Will chemo drugs push you into early menopause? What can I do to protect my fertility during the treatments? Can I have children after having chemotherapy? How long should I wait?
Be sure to ask and plan after getting those answers, for help during and after treatment. There are literally millions of survivors out there and are willing to help so contact a support group locally or go online if that is what is comfortable for you now.
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