Thursday, December 23, 2010

From Reactive to Proactive

I am a planner- I always have been. I schedule my life far in advance, have an active social life, and easily become immersed in my work. For the first time in my life I am learning how to live moment to moment, as opposed to month to month or year to year. I am slowly learning the importance of savoring each moment and coming to the realization that every breath is a gift.  Learning how to live moment to moment is not only counter-intuitive but it is incredibly difficult. 

During the ten days before surgery I decided to take it upon myself to learn everything I could about Hodgkins, the oncologists at Northwestern Hospital's Lurie Cancer Center, Cancer Support Groups- specifically Immerman's Angels, Wigs for Cancer Patients, and Fertility treatments.

It just so happens that Marc's sister, Bonnie Rochman, is a journalist for Time Magazine where she writes about women's health issues. A few months prior, Bonnie wrote an article about a woman with Lymphoma and Ovarian Cancer that decided to freeze their eggs before undergoing Chemotherapy. Many women diagnosed with Lymphoma who go through Chemo end up with a decreased ability to have children- some even become sterile. After reading Bonnie's article and speaking with her at length, I knew that I didnt want my ability to have children to be affected by Cancer. This was the one aspect of my hellish situation that I felt I could regain some control over. 

I quickly learned firsthand how exploring and undergoing fertility treatment before starting Chemotherapy can actually be psychologically beneficial to the patient. It makes the patient think about life after cancer not only for themselves but for their potential children. Bonnie's article Fertility and Cancer: Surviving and Having Kids Too caused me to think about the importance of exploring this option during the downtime before surgery.

The next day I enrolled as a patient in Northwestern Hospital's Onco-Fertility clinic which is a leading research facility for cancer patients. Before I meet with the oncologist on Thursday January 6th I will have already started taking IVF injections that will allow me to harvest my eggs.  Working with the clinic has been the silver lining throughout this whole process. It not only has been a welcomed diversion of sorts, it has allowed me to feel more in control of my body and what is happening to it.  I may not be able to control the Cancer, but I can feel somewhat in control of my ability to one day have children. I found myself experiencing a strength that I had not yet felt throughout this whole process. I found myself not only fighting for my own life but for the lives of my children. I feel incredibly grateful to Bonnie for bringing this to my attention and I am eager to start the process.

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