Man. This is the topic that I have the most difficulty talking about.
It’s an incredibly personal one and a potentially sad one, but that’s why I want to write about it. It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot over the past couple of weeks, and I feel like I’m finally at a good point, emotionally, to write about it.
I’ve spent most of my life being completely certain that I didn’t want to have kids. I love kids and I’ve always wanted to teach kids, but I did not want kids of my own. In fact, at 19 or 20 years old, it would legitimately annoy me when people tried to convince me otherwise. People would always say, “You say that now, but just wait until you meet your future husband”, and I would always respond with an eye roll and a laugh.
When Ivory and I started dating, we knew almost immediately that it was something serious and we treated it as such. We talked about all the deep stuff pretty early on because we wanted to have all of our cards out on the table. Neither of us like to play those kind of games, so we wanted to be as honest and open about our goals, hopes, expectations, and morals as we possibly could.
When the subject of kids came up, I quickly blurted out that I didn’t want kids and almost immediately recoiled for fear that I had just said the “deal-breaker”.
Always more rational than me, Ivory was quiet for a second, then said that he didn’t know if he wanted kids or not. He said that right now (he was 27 at the time), he didn’t want kids and that he wasn’t sure when/if he would want them, but that he wouldn’t say that he never wanted kids.
After a little more talking, we both agreed that it would be a non-issue until one of us changed our mind.
A couple of years passed and I fell even more in love with him. And as much as I really hated to admit it, I started thinking about the possibility of having kids for the first time ever. It was a weird feeling and one that I wasn’t super comfortable with. Nevertheless, I nervously admitted it to Ivory and he said that he had been thinking about it too.
While it was really exciting, there was a huge emphasis on it happening in the DISTANT future. We knew wanted them, but there were a lot of things we wanted to accomplish, both personally and as a couple, before we even started to seriously talk about it.
Fast forward to the present, where the realities of the treatment for my disease have the potential to change everything.
*Just a warning, this next part may be a little boring*
When we met with my surgical oncologist a couple weeks ago, she told me that my tumor is hormone receptor positive, which means that it feeds off of the estrogen and progesterone that’s in my body. In order to keep me from developing cancer in the future, she wants me to take a drug that weakens my estrogen production. Most women take this drug for 5 years, but since I’m so young (and still have so much estrogen, I guess) she’s encouraged me to take it for 10 years.
I can not get pregnant on this drug. Meaning, kids are not a possibility until I’m at least 36.
As hard as that was to hear, I realized that 36 wasn’t such a bad age. Also, it’s completely my choice if I want to stay on the drug for that long. All in all, it was hard to hear, but it wasn’t devastating.
Last week, I met with a doctor to go over the details of genetics and genetics testing (the results of which I will not have for another few weeks). It was a whole lot of information, but the main takeaway was that if I test positive for BRCA 1 or 2, it is likely that my doctors will encourage me to have an oophorectomy (aka, have my ovaries removed) by the time that I am 35 because my risk of getting ovarian cancer greatly increases.
That one hit me pretty hard because it will make having a kid impossible. But still, Ivory reminded me that it’s only a possibility and that we shouldn’t worry about it until we have to… he is much better about doing that than I am, but I still agreed.
Yesterday, I met with my oncologist to go through “chemo teach”, which is essentially an hour and a half of information overload to give me as much understanding of chemo and its side effects as possible. One of the possible side effects is infertility and while she did say that it only happens to 10% of cancer patients, my chances of getting breast cancer were about .02%… so that wasn’t as comforting as she intended it to be.
Between all of those things, there is a chance that I will be unable to have kids, ever.
I know that’s a lot of if’s and that I should “stay positive”, and I am. However, it is a possibility and if you know me well, you know that I like to hope for the best, but prepare myself for the worst.
The above situation is the absolute worst case scenario to me and my way of coping with it is to let those emotions bubble up, allow myself to feel them, and then accept them.
There are options for egg preservation, freezing, etc. However, those are all incredibly expensive and not covered by insurance. So, after a lot of talking with Ivory, we’ve decided to focus on my health for the moment and let the cards fall where they may. There are a lot of options for people who are unable to have kids of their own, and we are more than happy to pursue those.
In the end, it’s more important to both of us that I come out of this as healthy and healed as possible so that I am able to live a long, cancer-free life with him and whatever kids we may have.
Still though, the best case scenario is that all my worrying is for nothing, and I’m able to have a beautiful kid who is equal parts me and the man I love most in this world.
That would be the very best.
(P.S. I put that picture of my niece and me up because it was through seeing her grow up that I realized that being a mom is a privilege and an honor that I want to experience.)