Apr 06, 2018 11:00 AM

Author: Laura Boren


Laura Boren

From time to time, HCI invites guest commentary from our community. The views reflected in these commentaries are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of HCI.

By Laura Boren, uterine sarcoma patient

When I was first diagnosed with uterine sarcoma, a lot of things went through my head. It felt like a joke or a mistake, as if surely my pathology had been mixed up with someone else’s. Then there was the fear that I could die and the realization that I might have to eventually say goodbye to my waist-length hair. But behind all of the distress about treatment was an overwhelming feeling of disbelief that I was about to be surgically and chemically sterilized at age 28.

A lot of people tried to make me feel better by reminding me that I already had a beautiful child, but that was no consolation. In the weeks leading up to my hysterectomy, my mind was constantly racing with thoughts of future surrogacy, never being pregnant again, and having to explain to every future dating partner that I was permanently infertile. I’ve never been one to place my worth as a person into my identity as a mother, but from diagnosis to surgery it felt like I was being robbed of something fundamental to my identity as a woman.

After my hysterectomy, we found out my cancer was much more advanced than originally thought—stage 3C metastatic disease. To have the best chance of survival I would need chemotherapy, full pelvic radiation, and long-term hormone therapy—treatments almost guaranteed to send me into menopause. What started as planning and saving for a “maybe” surrogacy in several years turned into a rush to retrieve and freeze my eggs before my first infusion.

The Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine gave me an immediate appointment and helped me apply for financial support through LIVESTRONG Fertility. I spent the three weeks leading up to my first chemotherapy infusion having daily ultrasounds and blood tests and giving myself shots of fertility medications. I had my egg retrieval on the day after Thanksgiving, just four days before chemo was scheduled to start.

I don’t know if in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy is something I will pursue in the future. But being able to retrieve and freeze eggs before chemotherapy gave me back a little bit of the control I felt was lacking. When I finally hit menopause halfway through my treatment I had a sense of solace knowing I did everything I could to diminish at least that one long-term, damaging side effect.

If you want to preserve your ability to have children, talk to your doctor before chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery begins. Learn more about preserving fertility from this factsheet or the Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine.

Adolescent and young adult (AYA) patient navigators support HCI patients who have or had cancer in their teens, 20s, and 30s. This free service connects patients to information and resources to help with the broader effects of cancer treatment.


Laura Boren

Uterine Sarcoma Patient
cancerinfo@hci.utah.edu

sarcoma gynecologic cancer uterine cancer fertility AYA cancer HI-AYA patient stories

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