When Dr Petersen, our GP, shared the cancer diagnosis with us, we spent some time processing the information with him. He asked us both, “What is your worse fear right now?” For Waylon, it was that he would lose me…and Dr Petersen assured him that that was not going to happen. For me, it was that we would not be able to have children. So when my oncologist explained that the chemotherapy may result in ovarian failure (my cancer is receptive to oestrogen and that hormone needs to be suppressed) and asked whether I wanted to have children, I knew what my answer was.
And so began our journey with fertility and cancer.
We decided to investigate the option of egg freezing, so we visited Cape Fertility Clinic. I saw the lovely Dr Le Roux who explained our options and chances of success. 10% success is the international statistic when using eggs of a woman over 40. Shoo! Would the cost be worth the odds? Nicole, who was with me, asked me what my gut was saying. “That my mother had a healthy baby at 44, so maybe the quality of my eggs won’t be that bad,” was my reply. I guess something greater than logic and practicality was at work in me.
The doctor said we could let him know later the day, as I still had loads of tests to do that day. I was so conflicted. I called Waylon but had to go get the marker placed in my breast (a procedure, much like a biopsy, where they place a marker so that they know where the tumour was after chemo because the tumour shrinks) so it was too short a call for lengthy discussions.
Waiting for the doctor, I called out to God in frustration. “Really! What more?!” Lying there I got the sense that God was saying,”Am I not the God of the impossible?” and that old chorus “Trust and Obey ‘cause there’s no other way” came to mind. Forever a sceptic, I honestly don’t know if it was God or the Word of God, that is written on my heart, that I accessed at that point because of the desire of my heart. But trust it I did.
I called Waylon again and we discussed, taking money out of the equation and realised we want to give ourselves a fighting chance, regardless of the statistics. Have we not always defied the stats and gone with our heart. So with the help of some generous friends, we were able to give the doctor the go-ahead.
The process is quite interesting. Waylon had to inject me everyday at the same time for 11 days to stimulate the growth of the eggs. The injections are not hectic, they’re really tiny needles. I went for check-ups regularly where the doctor checks the progress of the growth through an ultrasound examination. After the 12th day, my stomach was just feeling bloated and heavy because I suppose, of the multiple egg production. On Day 13 they extracted the eggs through a vaginal procedure. I was asleep so can’t tell you anything. I woke up to some pain but Aunty Flo, the nurse helping me brought a hot water bottle which really helped. It’s taken me about 3 days to start feeling like myself again, with great help from my friend who has gone through this procedure before.
The results? They extracted 13 eggs (not bad for a 43 year old) from my ovaries. After testing them to see which ones were mature enough and of good quality, they froze the 5 who stand a good chance for later and we’re happy.
We’re happy that we have the opportunity for hope beyond this diagnosis. We have no idea how all this will play out but we have hope and hope does not disappoint.